Archive for the ‘CBA mess’ Category

Just in case you’re a masochist or ever need help getting to sleep:

Friday, February 18 2011: The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association begin mediation under the auspices of Washington-based federal mediator George Cohen. The two sides would meet for a total of 17 sessions over the next 22 days.

Tuesday, March 1 2011: Minnesota federal Judge David Doty rules that the league violated the collective bargaining agreement by arranging for $4 billion in additional television revenue in the event of a long-term work stoppage. With the owners no longer able to access that “lockout insurance” money, the players gain a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiations.

Thursday, March 3 2011: With some progress reportedly being made and the collective bargaining agreement slated to expire at midnight, the league the NFLPA agree to extend the deadline by 24 hours.

Friday, March 4 2011: The league and the NFLPA once again agree to extend the CBA expiration deadline, this time by a full week.

Friday, March 11 2011: Not satisfied with the league’s last offer and displeased that the owners refuse to fully open their financial books, the NFLPA decertifies. The players — led by Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning — file an antitrust lawsuit against the league.

Saturday, March 12 2011: The NFL officially locks out its players. It’s the first work stoppage to hit professional football in 24 years.

Thursday, March 17 2011: NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith calls the league’s last offer the “worst deal in the history of sports.”

Wednesday, April 6 2011: Minnesota federal Judge Susan Richard Nelson hears the players’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop the lockout. Proceedings indicate that Nelson heavily favors the players.

Thursday, April 7 2011: While she takes “a couple weeks” to come to a decision, Judge Susan Nelson urges the owners and players to return to mediation.

Friday, April 8 2011: Judge Susan Nelson takes it one step further, ordering the two sides to return to mediation.

Thursday, April 14 2011: The two sides begin forced mediation in Minnesota under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan.

Wednesday, April 20 2011: Court-ordered mediation is adjourned until May 16. In four sessions over a seven-day period with Boylan, the sides met for 26 total hours.

Monday, April 25 2011: Judge Susan Nelson rules in favor of the players in their motion to lift the lockout. She does not issue a stay pending an appeal, although the league immediately requests for one.

Wednesday, April 27 2011: Judge Susan Nelson denies the NFL’s request for a stay pending an appeal on her ruling that the lockout be lifted immediately.

Friday, April 29 2011: Faced with potential contempt of court charges, the league is forced to open its doors and end the lockout in the morning. But by the time the day is through, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals grants the NFL a temporary stay on Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling to lift the lockout. After several hours of business as usual, the work stoppage resumes.

Tuesday, May 3 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals grants the NFL’s request for an expedited hearing in its appeal of Judge Susan Nelson’s decision to lift the lockout.

Thursday, May 12 2011: The lockout reaches day 58, making it the longest work stoppage in NFL history.

Monday, May 16 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals grants the NFL an extended stay pending the league’s full appeal of Judge Susan Nelson’s decision. On the same day, the two side return to mediation under the direction of Chief Magistrate Arthur Boylan for the first time in nearly a month.

Tuesday, May 17 2011: Court-ordered mediation is adjourned again, this time until June 7.

Thursday, June 2 2011: Court-ordered mediation slated for June 7-8 is cancelled because confidential settlement discussions are underway. Under a vow of silence, representatives from the sides begin a series of meetings in a Chicago suburb. They’d meet in different forms in five other cities over the course of the next seven weeks.

Friday, June 3 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments for and against the lockout. The three-judge panel warns that their decision will be one that neither party likes.

Friday, July 8 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the league, upholding the lockout.

Thursday, July 21 2011: The owners approve the proposed CBA.

Monday, July 25 2011: After a weekend of negotiations, the players finally vote to ratify the deal.

It’s (officially) over!!!!!!1

Take your final look at Ron Burgundy and Brian Fantana. Lockout Watch 2011! is over. The players have unanimously ratified the collective bargaining agreement, setting things up for a joyous press conference involving Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. Football will be back tomorrow, with facilities turning the lights on and the trade market opening at 10:00 a.m. ET.

The always-disruptive lawyers tried and succeeded at continually raining on a multitude of planned parades, but Goodell and Smith were too strong in the end. Both took beatings publicly on multiple occasions during this messy process, but they were, fittingly, the men who saved football. They forced themselves to meet for dinners and to work one-on-one late into many nights. Over the past week, the commish and the labor leader worked tirelessly to bring their constituents together.

We’ve been very critical of Smith over the last five months, but kudos to him for getting over his ego and working through his stubbornness. Goodell tried too hard to strong-arm the players early, but he ultimately realized there was too much to lose and forged a positive working relationship with his labor enemy.

It’s encouraging that Goodell and Smith have established what appears to be a very healthy business relationship (and maybe even a friendship) as of late, but with no opt-out clauses in the new deal it’s also probably irrelevant. This was a painful stretch, but it might have been necessary. Now, we’ve lost just one preseason game and are guaranteed labor peace for the next 10 years.

Labor peace guaranteed for a decade

One of the final points of contention as the owners and players put the remaining touches on a new collective bargaining agreement was whether there would be an opt-out clause in the 10-year pact.

Turns out, the owners lost that battle (or they leveraged a separate bargaining chip in order to win it). There will be no opt-out clause in the new CBA, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network.

That means that, unless the feces hits the fan today, we won’t have to go through this process again for a minimum of 10 years. It also means that we’ll go 34 years without losing games due to work stoppages.

Now, we await a vote that is considered to be a formality and one of the most exciting press conferences in football history.

It’s (almost) overrrr

Yesterday, we noted that it was very likely the lockout would end Monday. Now, it seems to be an inevitability.

The players will vote on the new collective bargaining agreement on Monday, but the suspense-killing truth is that the process is considered to be a “formality.”

Once the executive committee and the board of representatives rubber stamp the deal tomorrow, they’ll hold a press conference to officially announce the return of football. Then the doors will swing open at all 32 facilities and 1,900-odd players will vote to approve the agreement and to recertify the union as they return to work midway through the week.

Watch for the floodgates of free agency to open next weekend (so much for a long weekend cottage getaway), with training camps getting underway early next week.

So take a deep breath, football fans. The moment we’ve been waiting for is about to arrive. And with only four accrued seasons required for players to become free agents, things are about to get very, very intense.

And 18 days from now, on Aug. 11, football will officially be back.

Monday will mark Day 136 of the longest lockout in NFL history. It might also be the day in which football finally returns.

Major progress has been made in CBA talks today, according to Chris Mortensen and John Clayton of ESPN, and it’s beginning to look as though the players will be in a position to vote on the latest proposal at some point on Monday (and maybe earlier).

During a conference call on Saturday, the labor committee reportedly put a plan in place for how to execute voting procedures and timelines, as well as to determine how and when to recertify as a union.

Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports that “10 or so outstanding issues” have been “whittled down to two or three.” Ideally, those issues will be worked out today and tomorrow and the NFLPA executive committee will recommend approval of the collective bargaining agreement Monday, enabling teams to open their facilities on Tuesday, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

Based on that timeline, we can expect the new league year and free agency to officially begin on either Sunday or Monday of next week. That’s assuming everything goes according to plan. And at this point, we’d be foolish to assume anything.

Regardless, it’s beginning to look as though the Hall of Fame game will go down as the only victim of the 2011 NFL lockout.

Mondays suck. Combine the hangover with the work piled up because you were counting down to the weekend and were too lazy to do it on Friday and you have the day from hell. This Monday could really suck too, or it could be glorious.

We don’t really know, and we’ve never known. The NFL has played a steady melody with our heart strings for the last four months.

What we do know however is that we won’t see any substantial new development until Monday. That’s because the league’s 32 player representatives fired off an e-mail to all players late Friday afternoon outlining the plans for the weekend, and those plans don’t include any player meetings until Monday.

From ESPN:

Guys, To keep you abreast of the latest developments, we are reviewing the latest proposal for a settlement. Because of the passing of Myra Kraft in Boston, the NFLPA will not be making any public statements in honor of the Kraft family. Our recommendation is for everyone to stay put and keep doing what you are doing where you are doing it. We will meet again on Monday to discuss our options and the direction we want to go. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks for your patience. Your Player Reps.”

In that same story Chris Mortensen reports that NFLPA leaders will continue to communicate throughout the weekend regarding the “finishing details” of the deal the owners approved Thursday.

And so we’ve come to the end of another day of hoping, and we’re preparing for more wishful thinking three days from now. With each passing day the proposed time line for condensed offseason events gets thrown further into orbit, and the preseason and the revenue it generates is threatened.

Have a good weekend!

UPDATE: Yeah, you knew this was coming. Citing an unnamed source with “direct knowledge of the dynamics,” Pro Football Talk reports that there’s a chance a vote could come before Monday, despite what the players’ e-mail says.

Mike Florio’s source indicates that a vote will happen “when the deal points and the language on the settlement are completed.” The player reps seem to think that language won’t be complete until Monday, while the rest of us just want a stiff drink.

Have a good weekend!

At the beginning of this seemingly never-ending nightmare, 133 days ago, the decertification of the NFLPA was the most significant point of contention between the NFL’s owners and players. Today, as we approach what looks to be the finish line but could very well be a mirage, the recertification of the NFLPA has emerged as the chief sticking point.

And because the players aren’t satisfied with certain aspects of the league’s ratified proposal, it’s becoming apparent that the recertification process will linger and the beginning of the new league year will continue to be delayed.

While discussions continue, word is the players will not vote on a new collective bargaining agreement Friday, which means team facilities will likely now open on Sunday or Monday at the earliest.

With each passing day, we can continue to adjust this schedule until the first week of the preseason is cancelled at some point next week.

Here’s a major problem: I’ve yet to hear a single player properly verbalize what he doesn’t like about the owners’ latest proposal. I understand that they’re frustrated with something, but they aren’t explaining themselves. What I’ve gathered based on hearing guys like Heath Evans and George Wilson talk is that issues dependent on collective bargaining (benefits, drug testing and discipline) are getting in the way.

Obviously, collective bargaining can’t take place until the union has recertified. In their proposal, the owners have left the two sides a 72-hour window next week in which those issues can be negotiated. If they fail to agree on re-worked policies during that period, the league will impose the 2006 CBA for the next 10 years.

That’s what bothers the players. They don’t like that the owners are dictating the recertification timeline, and they really don’t like that the owners are attempting to impose such a short window of time to negotiate the intricate details of the next CBA.

Are there other issues on the table? Maybe. Three of the four negotiation points we dissected yesterday weren’t addressed in the outline of the proposal forwarded to the players last night. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the players may be seeking an opt-out clause seven years into the 10-year agreement.

So there are several issues to discuss and time lines may have to be expanded, but the league and the players will have to work faster if they want to save the start of the preseason.

Don’t forget, though, that we’re talking about veteran players in the NFLPA executive committee. Maybe we should be wondering if they actually care to save the start of the preseason.