Why Are The Players Not Negotiating?

The 8th District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the owners and the league on a temporary “stay” until a final ruling on the appeal of Judge Susan Nelsons ruling lifting the lockout can be heard on June 3rd.  All indications point to the appeals court ruling in favor of overturning Nelsons’ ruling and allowing the league to continue the lockout.  Yet despite this hit to the players side, the players are not yet ready to negotiate a new CBA.  Why?

I hate using the word “players” because I know for a fact that many players don’t have a clue as to what is really going on.  As it was explained to me in an Email from a current soon to be free agent who will remain nameless per his request, players are only being told information from their team player reps who are receiving their info from the de facto union bosses.  In other words, they are getting the same propaganda messages we are.  My words not his.

This battle of labor is not the fault of the players.  I know, I have advocated that from day 1.  This is not, as he very clearly pointed out to me, NOT the fault of the players.  He didn’t say however that it is the fault of the owners, instead, he pointed to the top of the NFLPA food chain.  In other words, the attorneys who are really running this show.  It’s because of that reason I do agree I shouldn’t be lumping 1900 players into the category of responsible parties because it’s becoming more and more clear that the players who are not privy to the DeMaurice Smith reality are as in the dark as we all are.

So why is it that Smith and Co., not negotiating with the NFL?

Two days ago the mediating magistrate judge asked the NFL to submit to the players another CBA proposal.  The owners obliged with a bulleted outline of what they are willing to give up and what the want in return.  Despite the fact that the last offer presented, now officially known as the “Worst offer in sports history” has never had a counter offer.  Now, with a new “offer” in hand, once again, the NFLPA has not followed up with a counter proposal.  You can not have a negotiation that is one way.

The offer the owners presented was only slightly better than the one they presented back in March, the day before the lockout began.  It’s a little surprising that it was in fact at least somewhat better considering that the leverage is squarely on the owners for the time being.  So why would the players not use this opportunity to negotiate a fair deal when it’s apparent that the owners are not going backwards with their offers?  Why not at least do a counter proposal?

Instead, Smith took the airwaves again today and reiterated that the NFL is “suing not to play football” when in fact it’s 11 players and Smith who are suing the NFL.  The facts are simple, the league offered a deal that would extend the last CBA for another week to continue negotiating.  The players said no unless the league opened their books.  The league then presented a CBA proposal.  The NFLPA called it the worst in sports history.  The NFLPA filed their decertification papers while the two sides were still sitting in a mediation room.  They didn’t tell the owners until after that session was over.  Later that night, the owners locked out the players and here we are.

Smith is looking for angles and ways to improve the players leverage.  Even while at least one player has taken out a 500,000 dollar loan at 23% interest to get through this mess.  He is telling players that even if they lose on June 3rd, that they will likely win under the Brady case with Judge Nelson.  At some point.  The league will of course appeal that if they lose.  Smith is also telling players that they will likely get a large sum of money, he fully expects the 700 million to be awarded from Judge Doty in their case against the owners for the lockout insurance regarding TV contracts.  If all that fails, he has made mention that players could individually sue the league for breach of their individual contracts.  Well, they could file lawsuits against the teams who hold those contracts.

With what little bit of leverage is available, the league isn’t thumping their chests yet, there is still a long way to go and regardless of whether the players are to blame or the league is to blame, both parties are responsible to many degrees.  The fact that one side is willing to negotiate, and is actually demanding that negotiations continue through all this litigation puts a lot of red marks on the other side, in this case, to me anyways, DeMaurice Smith who so far has done nothing in his short term as the President of the NFLPA “used to be”.

Smith needs to put his lawyer mentality aside and stop thinking about gaining leverage or suing this guy or that guy or pointing a finger at who is to blame and instead take a long look at the list of people that he represents and realize his job is to do what is in the best interest of those people rather than the man that stares back in the mirror.  Litigation isn’t going to solve anything and it hasn’t thus far.  As the player informed me,

“playing football is what I want to do and I can’t.  I don’t care who’s fault it is nor do I want to.  What I want is to see both sides at a table getting this “s&@#” done now.  So I can go back to work.”

Perhaps instead of Emailing me those thoughts, he and the others who are thinking the same thoughts, need to start Emailing Smith and is litigation team to get them back to where they are supposed to be.  Working out a deal that will be favorable for both players and owners alike.

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Tags: 8th Circuit Court Of Appeals DeMaurice Smith NFL NFL Lockout

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