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Thread: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

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    Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Bryan Burwell Friday, July 22, 2011 12:05 am


    The fans of pro football — those faceless loyalists who buy the expensive tickets, drink the $12 beers and eat the $8 hot dogs, devote countless hours finding new ways to profess their love of America's favorite game and constantly grouse about how they have largely been left out of the picture in the NFL's grueling labor conflict — now have exactly what they've always wanted: a voice in the process.

    Thanks to a carefully crafted, well-scripted 11th hour gambit by the owners, management has not-so-subtly shifted the public pressure of millions of football fans square into the players' chests. The NFL owners have cleverly implemented the court of public opinion as a giant cudgel in a four-month long labor dispute that they now conveniently want everyone to forget that they created in the first place. Standing in front of live television cameras on Thursday evening in Atlanta, commissioner Roger Goodell and lead negotiator Jeff Pash told everyone that they ratified an agreement that could open the doors to team facilities all over the league by Saturday morning.

    They followed it up with some carefully worded mumbo jumbo that basically made everyone who was speed reading through the highlights and skipping over the essentials believe that the only way the lockout will go on is if those darned players choose to give it breath.

    Goodell and the owners no doubt believe the best way to push this negotiating football over the goal line is with the leverage of public pressure. They have activated the potential wrath of millions of fans as if they were 'sleeper" secret agents. Imagine the force of essentially unleashing an angry mob on the players if they dare to delay a deal being shoved down their throats.

    So now after months of being ignored by both sides, the fans think that through the owners they have been empowered to affect the process.

    But it is a voice the players must ignore, consequences be damned.

    What we know now more than ever is that the owners and players are still involved in a deadly serious, contentious relationship that is teetering on the brink. What that brink is — a resolution of the deal, a blown-up disaster that will send the NFL hurtling towards an ugly extended work stoppage, or a simple bump in the road that could be resolved within the next 48 hours by cooler heads — no one knows for sure. But we all need to understand this: whether they are within an inch or a mile, there is no end to the lockout until a deal is done.

    But the players can't let the wrath of public opinion be injected into their thought process now when it hasn't been a factor for the last 130 days. They have to know that the majority of public opinion has never been behind them since the start of this dispute, and there's no point in worrying about what outside forces may think of them if the public (mis)perception is that they are responsible for the delay of the football season by a minute, an hour, a week or a day.

    And that was made clear Thursday night when the players association executive board decided against voting to ratify the owners proposal. "There is no agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA right now," players association executive director DeMaurice Smith told his constituents in an email Thursday evening.

    As much as you and I want to see this lockout end, as much as we all are eager to see our favorite teams head into training camps as soon as possible, I can't see a situation where either the players or owners allow themselves to have a collective bargaining agreement shoved down their throats if they're not satisfied.

    What they're about to sign locks both sides into a business arrangement that will last uninterrupted for the next 10 years. Unlike the old deal, there are no opt-out clauses for either side in this one. So whatever the players and owners hash out, they all better be sure it's the best for both worlds because they're going to be married to each other by these terms for a decade.

    As Pash said, once both sides ratify the CBA, "...our understanding is that as part of this agreement, litigation will be dismissed, disputes would all be resolved and we will go forward for the next 10 years as business partners, working together for the betterment of the game and not fighting with each other in (a Minnesota federal court) or elsewhere."

    While what the owners did Thursday may have created a sense of empowerment to the fans, it also defeated the purpose of the strategy. Instead of pushing the players to rush into signing the proposal, it emboldened them to take a step back.

    The owners overplayed their hand on this one, because it stalled things and gave the players pause and an uneasy sense that they shouldn't trust their potential business partners fully just yet.

    While the general sporting public may not care much about the details and just want their game back as soon as possible, the players do need to care about those finer points. What the owners agreed to in Atlanta was to ratify a proposal that they constructed.

    It wasn't the deal Goodell and Smith had tentatively settled on. It was a dramatic modification of that deal, with the owners crossing out this, adding that and initialing the changes and then sliding it back on the table as if nothing at all had changed.

    And then to add insult to injury, they called a press conference and told the world that it's a done deal.

    This isn't a deal. This is only the owners once again flexing their negotiating muscles, even as they stood there smiling and complimenting Smith and all the players who sat across the negotiating table for the past three years. But when you strip away all the glad-handing and premature celebratory tone of the commissioner and his negotiating team, this isn't anything but a little condescending bit of negotiating flim flam, and maybe even a sleight of hand attempt at fracturing the players union as well.

    And now the players have told the owners to slow their roll.

    The public might choose to forget the fact that it was the owners who created this situation, not the players. The owners opted out of an existing deal and instituted a lockout. And now they've tried to create a situation where in the 11th hour it's the players fault if the game doesn't begin on time.

    Even if the public wants to forget that, the players can't afford to have faulty memories of the history of this labor mess. As much as it pains me to say this, I hope the players stay the course, public opinion be damned.


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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    I wonder... was Al Davis sticking up for the players by abstaining? If that's the case he's earned a lot more of my respect.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Keenum View Post
    I wonder... was Al Davis sticking up for the players by abstaining? If that's the case he's earned a lot more of my respect.
    No, he wasn't. Zombie Al was actually lobbying to have all games played at night in a cemetary near a biker's bar so that he would have, in effect, all home games.

    That way he would be close to his plot when the games concluded, and after a warm toddy of a truly "Bloody" Mary he could drift off for his daily dirt nap.

    Let's not give Zombie Al any more credit than he deserves.
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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Only an idiot like Bryan Burwell would see it this way. Public Opinion has been against the entire process since day 1. The last ones to the table, such as the players in this case, will OF COURSE have the eye of public opinion on them.

    This isn't some "sleight-of-hand", you populist whack-a-do, it's the final stages of closing a deal. Had the union come to the table with something first, it would be the owners in the spotlight.

    You can't be so blind, Burwell.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Only an idiot like Bryan Burwell would see it this way. Public Opinion has been against the entire process since day 1. The last ones to the table, such as the players in this case, will OF COURSE have the eye of public opinion on them.

    This isn't some "sleight-of-hand", you populist whack-a-do, it's the final stages of closing a deal. Had the union come to the table with something first, it would be the owners in the spotlight.

    You can't be so blind, Burwell.
    When I was reading this I was thinking the same thing.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Am I the only one who's going to say this...?

    Maybe... just maybe... a 10 year collective bargaining agreement that addresses all the pertinent issues relating to the division of what could be an aggregate sum of approximately $150 Billion is beyond the intellectual capacties of a large percentage of 21-35 year old men who coasted through High School, were "tutored" through college, and are now engaged in a profession that requires them to take repeated blows to the head.

    Nah... it must be the shady owners that are the problem at this stage...

    Sheesh!
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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    I'm with you Av.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    Am I the only one who's going to say this...?

    Maybe... just maybe... a 10 year collective bargaining agreement that addresses all the pertinent issues relating to the division of what could be an aggregate sum of approximately $150 Billion is beyond the intellectual capacties of a large percentage of 21-35 year old men who coasted through High School, were "tutored" through college, and are now engaged in a profession that requires them to take repeated blows to the head.

    Nah... it must be the shady owners that are the problem at this stage...

    Sheesh!

    I'm a wee bit surprised by that, AV. I understand & share your frustration but if the owners have indeed made unilateral changes to the agreement hashed out in negotiations & are now representing it to the public as a done deal , surely that IS yet another shady ploy in a long series of shady ploys by both sides.

    Personally, I don't give a Whiner's patootie for whatever concessions the NFLPA may have to agree to in the end but I recognize a PR masterstroke on the part of the owners that would make Karl Rove hard when I see it. Maybe the player reps are boneheads but De Smith is a lawyer with a serious resume & I'm not surprised that he's calling them on it. Angry, sickened, and frustrated, but not surprised.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Argggggghhhhhhhhhhhh .... That about sums this whole process up ... wait .... theres more .... arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh .... yep, that about does it.

    Im with AV.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    I felt like this was written by a 16 year old Valley girl..sheesh..is there any other source to confirm that the owners made these supposed changes? Following these shenanigans over the last week, seeing Smith's comments about how "SEE SEE we really WERE a union" crap I really just got the feeling the bad blood is starting to resurface. Hopefully this will get worked out soon, but I have a bad feeling that large ego's will prevail

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    I'm a wee bit surprised by that, AV. I understand & share your frustration but if the owners have indeed made unilateral changes to the agreement hashed out in negotiations & are now representing it to the public as a done deal , surely that IS yet another shady ploy in a long series of shady ploys by both sides.
    That's the point, though. Every report I've read from people who are actually privy to the negotiations has indicated that the owners did NOT make any unilateral changes.

    This is about male egos. The players are upset that the owners went public with their vote before they could take credit for the deal.

    Truth be told, at this moment in time, there is no "lockout." If the players are not reporting now, its more akin to a "strike."

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    I'm not interested enough in Burwell's opinion to read that entire article, but it seems pretty obvious to me that the owners are trying to put pressure on the players by characterizing their proposal as something both parties had already agreed to while also attaching a short deadline for players to recertify and bargain for any changes. If I'm getting ready to sign a ten-year contract with no opt-out, I certainly wouldn't want to be rushed into doing so, even if I'm partially to blame for the time crunch. Having said that, if both sides would have been more serious, more urgent, and probably more respectful earlier in the process, perhaps they wouldn't find themselves in crunch time trying to get something done before more games are lost.
    Last edited by Nick; -07-23-2011 at 05:49 PM.
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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    It wasn't the deal Goodell and Smith had tentatively settled on. It was a dramatic modification of that deal, with the owners crossing out this, adding that and initialing the changes and then sliding it back on the table as if nothing at all had changed.
    IF this is a true statement, then I have no problem with the players' unwillingness to sign off on the deal. "Dramatic modification" is a pretty strong indictment and again, if true, the owners are WAY out of line for trying to force changes in an underhanded manner and use public rage as an arm twisting tactic.

    That said, if Burwell can emphatically level these charges, where are the details, the specifics? Why didn't he go point by point with the "dramatic modifications"? I'm getting the impression he doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm interested to hear what the players reps have to say about these allegations.

    In any case, this mess continues to be a cruel joke on those of us who are powerless to do anything about it.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I'm not interested enough in Burwell's opinion to read that entire article, but it seems pretty obvious to me that the owners are trying to put pressure on the players by characterizing their proposal as something both parties had already agreed to while also attaching a short deadline for players to recertify and bargain for any changes. If I'm getting ready to sign a ten-year contract with no opt-out, I certainly wouldn't want to be rushed into doing so, even if I'm partially to blame for the time crunch. Having said that, if both sides would have been more serious, more urgent, and probably more respectful earlier in the process, perhaps they wouldn't find themselves in crunch time trying to get something done before more games are lost.
    Out of all the comments on the subject, this is the one which I feel most closely resembles my point of view. After buying a house, timeshares, vechicles and other property sellers/financiars have a habit of trying to put in last second things into the contracts/deal. I don't blame the Players for obstaining from agreeing to the deal. However, I really miss football and can't wait till FA to add some pieces for us to win the NFC West and start our dominance once again for years to come.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL owners try to pull a fast one on players ..

    Quoting a Clayton/Mortenson article posted to ESPN just a few hours ago ("Source: Plan calls for vote at camps")...

    Owners tentatively agreed Saturday to a players-recommended plan for the NFL Players Association to bring players into team facilities starting as early as Wednesday to physically vote on whether to recertify the current trade association as a union, a source said. Progress in other talks with the owners has put the players' 11-member executive committee in a position to have a vote Monday to recommend accepting the 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
    That's good. That makes more sense to me than the owners' deadline, the concerns of which Clayton & Mort go on to explain later in the same article...

    It was vital for the NFLPA to have enough time for recertification and have a period of time for the renewed union to work out final details of its benefit plans.

    Only a union can negotiate benefits for its members and the NFLPA feared a Tuesday deadline to recertify would not leave enough time to properly negotiate changes in the benefits packages. Under terms of the owners' agreement from Thursday, players would have reverted back to the 2010 benefits plan if they didn't make adjustments within a certain time period.
    I'm glad to see that both sides have apparently moved on from the drama from Thursday and seem determined to finish the last stretch of this.

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