I will say it. DeMaurice Smith, not the players, is ruining the NFL as we know it. I will also say this, it is becoming evident that he is doing nothing with the interest of the players, the fans, or the game in mind. All of this is nothing more than a blindfold pulled over the unassuming eyes of the players in the guise of something that is best for them when in reality it’s what’s best for him.
DeMaurice Smith should be fired as the leader of the defunct NFLPA, the players should hire someone who is not a lawyer to take over, and immediately reform the union and head back to the negotiating table.
Sorry, this guy is a &*@$% who will likely try and sue me for calling him a &*@$%. He will have to prove what exactly a &*@$% first.
In 2009 the NFL owners agreed to a new television deal that put more money into the league. It also assured the owners that in the event of a work stoppage they would still get paid. While Smith is the central driver in the players litigation, he is the ring master behind the “Lockout insurance” case that was ruled in favor of the players a short 3 weeks ago. The problem is that Smith sent a letter to the league commending the owners and the NFL for striking such a great deal…back when it happened.
Right now, there are no less than three lawsuits regarding the NFL. The 11 player lockout case to be heard on the 6th of April, the lockout case, and the NFL’s case with the labor review board regarding what they are calling a sham decertification. But here is where it not only get’s interesting, but paints Smith in the correct light. The “limelight”.
Smith was asked repeatedly today if the non-union would go back to the table to negotiate. His response? ”We have lawyers and class counsel who are representing us. There is no reason why those lawyers and class counsel and lawyers for the league can’t get together and talk and negotiate.”
In other words, “I’m not going to talk to them.” Smith is not the head of the NFLPA right now because there is no NFLPA so instead he pulls the strings from the top of the “trade commission”. He still is in charge but would rather see this go through the courts. Which makes sense because all of the NFLPA attorneys are friends of his and getting paid by the hour.
To make matters worse, Smith is also claiming that the 18 game schedule that was “No way in hell going to happen” suddenly is back-pedaling on that stance. When asked today if the 18 game season was off the table, Smith said “So far the NFL hasn’t put an 18-game proposal on the table that takes into consideration the health and safety of our players”.
When pressed again, Smith said “It’s non-negotiable when someone says they don’t care about making the game safer,” Smith said. “Let’s just cut to it: Their 18-game proposal included a roster increase of one.” So in reality it’s about money, as in money for the players being added to the roster or in this case the one player. Sounds like that “18 game schedule” is more realistic than he wants the players to believe.
It’s hard to say what exactly the union is wanting because frankly they are not talking. They are letting the litigation speak for them. They want it known that the work stoppage is the fault of the owners. But it should be noted that outside of Drew Brees who has been the most vocal about the anti-trust litigation, no other players are really saying anything. It’s all coming from Smith and the union attorneys.
Roger Goodell sent a letter to all of the players and their agents urging them to talk their union back to the negotiating table. He highlighted the key points of the final league proposal in that letter.
As posted on Profootballtalk.com:
“We want you to understand the offer that we made to the NFLPA,” Goodell wrote. “The proposal was made to avoid a work stoppage. Each passing day puts our game and our shared economics further at risk. We believe the offer presented a strong and fair basis for continuing negotiations, allowing the new league year and free agency to begin, and growing our game in the years to come.”
Goodell then summarizes the key elements of the proposal: maximum salary and benefits per team of $141 million per club in 2011, with maximum salary and benefits per team of $161 million in 2014; free agency for players with four or more accrued season; reduced draft-choice compensation for restricted free agents; extensive changes in offseason workouts; reduction of preseason and regular-season padded practices; increased days off; retention of the 16-game season through 2012 with no change to 18 games without the players’ agreement; expanded injury guarantees, with up to $1 million in the year after an injury occurs; continuing medical coverage for life; immediate increases in pension for pre-1993 players; a new rookie wage scale that would make $300 million per draft class available for veteran pay and player benefits; and external arbitration of all drug and steroids appeals.
“Working together, players and clubs have made the game great,” Goodell added. “Our fans want us to find common ground, settle our differences, and come to a fair agreement. I have met with many of you since becoming Commissioner. You know of my respect and admiration for you as men and players. We need to come together, and soon.
“In that spirit, we are prepared to negotiate a full agreement that would incorporate these features and other progressive changes that would benefits players, clubs, and fans. Only through collective bargaining will we reach that kind of agreement. Our goal is to make our league even better than it is today, with the benefits shared by all of us,” Goodell said.
“I hope you will encourage your Union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement.”
Not only is that a good deal that increases the money currently being made by the players, it is completely open to further negotiations. Yet DeMaurice Smith refuses to stand up for the players and take the labor talks back to real negotiations instead wasting precious time in the off-season to await the April 6th court date. Allowing the players to be bilked out of more money for the hourly attorneys.
Another D-Smith episode is the procurement of workout facilities for the locked out players. The “not-a-union” President has worked out a deal with Athlete’s Performance to allow NFL players to workout in their facilities across the country. For, are you ready for this, 500 bucks a workout. The union and Mr. Smith are not paying for that, the players are, individually, and frankly some of them won’t be able to afford it all off-season.
Smith is thumping his chest on this as though it was something grand that he did for the players he represents but in reality, it was nothing more than bilking the players of more money, if they choose to use the facilities (many likely won’t). As it is now, many players will have to take out insurance policies on their bodies in the case of injury that threatens their next season. They have to pay that themselves as well. Along with the medical insurance coverage that the league once provided.
So while Mr. Smith stays in Washington, the players who are blindly following the “Pied Piper” nowhere, are going to find out real soon that all of this can end simply by going back to the negotiating table and working out a fair deal on both sides that will continue to get the players more money the higher the revenue increases. Which is already what the NFL is proposing.
Oddly enough, one of the reasons that the NFLPA didn’t accept that last offer, as I was personally told by one non-NFL executive, was that while the salary caps increase yearly, the NFL could be in position to make far more than that down the road and the NFLPA wanted a higher guaranteed amount for future business. In other words consider it like oil futures. They want the guaranteed money regardless of whether the NFL actually makes a substantial increase at all.
The game as we know it, from free agency to the draft could all change in the matter of a few months. The players need to be very careful here and learn what exactly is at stake because they don’t know the whole story from Mr. Deception. If the NFL players lose their case against the NFL, the NFL can operate almost singularly the way they want. Which could lead to less money for many players. In the event that they win, there could be no draft, there could be no real free agency, and the owners could singularly choose not to spend anywhere close to the salary cap proposals.
DeMaurice Smith is a lawyer and frankly, he is acting like one. He was appointed to be the head of the NFLPA and he has already ran himself out of that job by convincing players throughout the season that decertification was in their best interests. And it appears that they negotiated or failed to negotiate with that in mind.
For years 1900 or so players have been paying 15,000 bucks annually to the NFLPA for dues. Now, it’s all being wasted on useless litigation for attorneys who have no business deciding the fate of the NFL and it’s players.
Oh, and for what it’s worth. NY Jets CB Antonio Cromartie announced today that he WILL be at the NFL Draft this year and that any player asked to attend should attend. That it transcends the rest of all this garbage. First time I think I have ever agreed with anyone from the Jets.