Teams reached out to fans Saturday as FOXSports.com keeps you up to date on the NFL’s labor situation. (All times are Eastern.) | Friday’s updates | Thursday’s updates | Wednesday’s updates | Tuesday’s updates | Monday’s updates | March 4 updates | March 3 updates
Chargers address labor dispute — 7:41 p.m.
San Diego Chargers President and CEO Dean Spanos is one of 10 members of the NFL’s management council executive committee, a key group of NFL leaders currently focused on getting a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA. So naturally, he has a strong opinion on the breakdown in the CBA talks.
Spanos released a statement on Saturday regarding the NFLPA’s to decertify.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the Union’s decision to decertify, which led to the League’s difficult but necessary step to lock out, something we tried hard to avoid. The most efficient way to get a new deal done is through mediation and negotiation; not through litigation. The lawyers are the only winners in litigation. The fans, players and teams all lose. Unfortunately this action by the Union only delays the process.
“I’m disappointed for the fans who care about the Chargers and this game we all love. I feel badly for our players. They’re good men that just want to play football and win a championship, but they’re caught in the middle.
“I’m most disappointed in the actions of the Union’s leadership that is supposed to be representing all of our players. They clearly were not negotiating in good faith right from the beginning. I believe their intention all along was to decertify and bring us to litigation.
“The Chargers will continue to do everything within the League rules to prepare to win a championship. Currently we’re preparing for a very important draft and will be ready to take advantage of all opportunities to improve our team.
“We will get through this. There will be a new agreement and we’re looking forward to playing football this season. In the end, the final result will be an agreement that is good for the fans, fair for the players and teams, and will allow this game to grow and prosper in San Diego.”
Giants release statement — 5:01 p.m.
The New York Giants were the next team on Saturday to release a statement on CBA discussions.
Executive Vice President Steve Tisch and president and chief executive officer John Mara made their feelings known in the statement sent to the fans.
“We are as disappointed as you are in the developments of the past week and the current state of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
For there to be no CBA in place today is extremely disappointing, given the amount of time and hard work and the numerous conversations devoted to achieving an agreement, not just in the last two weeks but over the last two years. We are not happy about that and we certainly understand and appreciate your unhappiness and frustration.
Where we are today serves no positive purpose for you, for our players and for the National Football League. Although we had hoped and expected to have an agreement by now and are disappointed that we do not, we remain as committed as ever to returning this process where it belongs, which is the negotiating table. We are convinced that what we have stated many times remains true, that there will be a new agreement and there will be a 2011 NFL season. It is just a matter of when we are able to reach an accord on the current issues.
The impatience and the displeasure we know you are feeling is completely understandable. We can only assure you that the point of the entire process is to make our game as strong as it can possibly be and to enable it to continue to grow for the good of everybody – the league, the players and the fans.
The last thing we wanted is for the business end of our sport to play out this way. We know people frankly don’t care how owners and players manage their business. These negotiations distract and detract from what is most important to all of us: the game.
We are doing all we can to return the focus as quickly as possible to where it belongs, the field of play.”
Chiefs release statement — 5:01 p.m.
The statements from around the NFL in regard to the CBA continued to roll in on Saturday. The latest is from the Kansas City Chiefs. But this time, it was just from the team not from one of their top executives. And the theme remained the same; take a shot at the players.
“The Kansas City Chiefs still believe the fastest way to a fair agreement is through the mediation process. While we are disappointed that the union walked away from the clubs’ offer to split the difference and meet them in the middle, we remain confident that we can and will reach a deal that is good for the game.
After a season that began with Monday Night Magic at the grand opening of the New Arrowhead, and culminated in a division championship, we are more focused than ever on improving every area of our team. We know there will be football in the future – and we have already started to plan for the 2011 season. Our football staff is continuing its preparation for the NFL Draft and our business operations staff is using fan feedback to make the Arrowhead experience the best in the NFL.
We have great respect for our fans and our season ticket holders, and are committed to communicating openly and directly with them as we work to reach a long-term agreement with the players that is fair to everyone who loves this game.” — Adam Caplan
Eagles send season ticket holders a message — 5:01 p.m.
Some teams have begun the process of informing their season ticket holders on what’s going on with the CBA and other developments.
A Philadelphia Eagles season ticket holder forwarded an email from the team.
As an important member of the Philadelphia Eagles, we felt it was appropriate to pass along a statement from the NFL regarding the events that transpired this afternoon. Although we will be limited in what we can say about the discussions, we will do our best to keep you informed.
Thank you for your continued support.
The email included the NFL’s statement on the CBA. — Adam Caplan
Jets’ owner: team will cut coaches’ pay — 4:40 p.m.
The statements from NFL owners continue to filter out on Saturday. Here’ one from from New York Jets chairman & CEO Woody Johnson.
“It may take longer than we all had hoped, but New York Jets fans should know that a deal will get done and I remain confident that there will be NFL football in 2011. Although I was very disappointed that the (NFLPA) union chose legal maneuvering over negotiating, I am convinced that our differences can be resolved at the bargaining table. We care deeply about our players and will continue to work towards an agreement that is fair and reasonable for everyone – the fans, the players and the teams. The goal for the Jets will not change – we are committed to bringing you a championship.”
The New York Daily News reports the Jets confirmed furloughs and coaches’ 25 percent paycuts are in effect now that lockout has commenced. The Jets still intend to recoup money lost to all employees during a lockout if no preseason games are lost.
“Our plans are in effect. This is a fluid situation. We will obviously be evaluating our approach as events unfold,” the team said. — Adam Caplan
NFL hires high-powered attorneys — 3:49 p.m.
The NFL is sparing no expense when it comes to defending themselves in the antitrust suit the NFL players filed against them.
The league has retained attorneys David Bioes, founder and chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, and Paul Clement, head of law firm King & Spalding’s appellate practice and the former United States Solicitor General, to join Gregg Levy of Covington & Burling in representing the league in the antitrust litigation filed yesterday by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
Last November, Boies won a $1.3 billion copyright infringement verdict for Oracle — the largest verdict of its kind in history. Boies is currently co-leading a landmark civil rights case involving the Constitutional protection of same-sex marriage. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including Time magazine’s “Lawyer of the Year” and runner-up for “Person of the Year” in 2000 for his work in Bush v. Gore.
Clement served as the 43rd Solicitor General of the United States from June 2005 until June 2008. In all, he spent seven years in the Office of the Solicitor General – the longest period of continuous service by a Solicitor General since the 1800s — and argued more than 50 cases before the United States Supreme Court. Last year, he was recognized as a finalist for the Public Justice Foundation’s 2010 Trial Lawyer of the Year award.
Levy has served as the principal outside counsel for the NFL for more than 15 years and has had a lead role in each of the league’s major trial and appellate victories in that time, including the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Pro-Football, Inc. He is recognized as one of the top sports and antitrust lawyers in the country. Covington has represented the league for more than 50 years. — Adam Caplan
Patriots owner gives his feelings — 3:16 p.m.
New England Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft had been one of the NFL’s most optimistic owners in regard to the NFL and players agreeing to a new CBA by the original deadline of March 4. However, with the CBA expiring on March11 without a new agreement, he discussed his feelings in a released statement on Saturday.
“Going into these union negotiations, I was very optimistic that an agreement could be reached before the end of December if both sides were committed to the negotiations. The same was true as we approached the end of the NFL calendar year. We are fortunate to be operating in an industry that is thriving and I know that there was a deal to be done that was a win-win for both sides. I know that Commissioner (Roger) Goodell and his staff invested a tremendous amount of time and resources to negotiate an agreement that would benefit both parties and allow the league to continue to build for the future without interruption. I remained in constant contact with Roger and the members of the CEC this week and fully supported the proposal we made to the (NFLPA) players’ union on Friday.
“I think the actions of the union to end the mediation process and walk away from Friday’s offer clearly showed their true intentions to take this process to litigation all along. While disappointed by their action to decertify, I remain confident that an agreement will be reached and that the 2011 season will be played. I know that the owners are committed to this process, but that the quickest way to do so is through continued negotiation, not litigation. For the sake of all involved, the owners, the players and most importantly, the fans, I hope we return to the negotiating table very soon.” — Adam Caplan
Steelers president shares his thoughts — 1:26 p.m.
Several of the NFL’s owners and team presidents are giving their thoughts on the lack of a CBA between the NFL and its player.
Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II chimed in with his thoughts in a statement released Saturday:
I am very disappointed that we were not successful in reaching an agreement with the Players Association in the round of mediation that the Players Association walked away from on Friday. The NFL owners put a very fair offer on the table that we felt provided the framework for completing an agreement.
The NFL is willing to negotiate an agreement that is fair to the players, our teams and our fans. We do not believe the decertification of the Players Association is a legitimate bargaining tactic, and we have asked the National Labor Relations Board to review the conduct of the players association.
I can assure our fans that we are committed to negotiating an agreement that will allow us to get back to football as soon as possible. I remain optimistic that eventually cooler heads will prevail and we will be back at the bargaining table in the near future. — Adam Caplan
Report: 7 barred from working out at pro day — 12:50 p.m.
Seven former University of Arizona players will not be able to participate in the school’s pro day on Saturday, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Those players, who are classified as undrafted free agents, are not allowed to participate because they are from former previous draft classes. Because the NFL has locked out the players, teams are prohibited from signing undrafted free agents.
NFL teams still can work out and visit with draftable players despite the lack of a CBA between the owners and the players. The draft process is the only facet of the lockout which has not be affected. — Adam Caplan
Bears president opines on labor situation — 12:02 p.m.
Chicago Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips gave his thoughts on the lockout between the NFL and its players in a statement released by the team:
We’re disappointed in the need to take this step, but it is necessary for the long-term health of our league. Ultimately we believe an agreement will be reached at the bargaining table. As an individual club, our team focus is on our preparation for the 2011 season and we want Bears fans to know we are going to continue to do everything we can within the League rules to prepare for a championship season. Our immediate focus is on preparing for the draft. We also continue to evaluate our team and will be ready to take advantage of all avenues to improve our team once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Some aspects of this offseason may look different, but our commitment to winning remains the same. We need to build off the success we had in 2010. We are committed to our fan base and appreciate their patience throughout this process. We will do our best to create opportunities for Bears fans to ask questions and keep them informed of what is happening with their team and the labor discussions. We still plan to host fan events this offseason starting with our “Ultimate Weekend” which includes our Draft Party and Bears Expo at Soldier Field.
A deal will get done and we expect to play football in 2011. Our goal remains the same as we prepare to play, bringing a Super Bowl title back to Chicago. — Adam Caplan
Saints’ statement on labor talks — 11:48 a.m.
The New Orleans Saints released a statement Saturday in regard to the CBA negotiations between the NFL and its players:
The expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players’ union is an unfortunate and serious situation. The Saints organization is concerned for the people involved, especially for the great fans of our game, and particularly those of our team. We take this current period sincerely and are resolute in our determination to reach a common accord. We remain confident that meaningful dialogue between the League and the players’ union will continue until such time that a resolution is reached.
To that end the Saints organization will continue to make plans for a highly successful future, both in 2011 and beyond. We are striving to improve in every area. Our football operations are preparing for the draft, our coaches continue to prepare for football and our business operations continue to work closely with our sponsors and our fans, to make sure that they are also prepared for football.
We are intent on delivering more to our fans, through the millions invested in Superdome improvements to create a state of the art facility for our fans to enjoy Saints football, coupled with the Benson’s family’s investment in Champions Square, in an area previously left underused and blighted for years. The team is also proud of the multi-million dollar investment in the Airline Drive practice facility to make it second to none in the NFL. And throughout, we will continue to be a leader in youth development and community outreach initiatives that are model programs within the NFL year-to-year. We, as an organization, will never forget the tragedy of Katrina and how with the help of our fans we survived and together were able to win our first Super Bowl championship.
It is important to our organization that we remain in contact with our valued fans throughout this process. Our fans have been integral to our success and we welcome our fans to stay engaged with us as we prepare for football and we will keep all of you fully informed. — Adam Caplan
NFL’s statement on decertification, lockout and litigation — 11:43 a.m.
The following is the NFL’s statement on the NFL Players Association’s decertification, the lockout by the owners and potential litigation:
The fastest way to a fair agreement is for both the union and the clubs to continue the mediation process. Unfortunately, the players’ union notified our office at 4 p.m. ET on Friday that it had “decertified” and walked away from mediation and collective bargaining to initiate the antitrust litigation it has been threatening to file. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, the clubs offered a deal that would have had no adverse financial impact upon veteran players in the early years and would meet the players’ financial demands in the latter years.
The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).
The union was offered financial disclosure of audited league and club profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs.
The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (organized team activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes.
At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham “decertification” and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.
The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.
Since June of 2009, 21 months ago, the NFL clubs have made numerous comprehensive, detailed proposals and counter-proposals; negotiated in dozens of formal sessions and smaller group meetings; and engaged in a series of intensive negotiating sessions over the past three weeks under the auspices of George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. We have reaffirmed to Director Cohen our commitment to the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached.
The goals of the NFL clubs have been clear from the start. The current CBA is flawed in numerous respects, and the system must be improved to ensure continued growth and innovation and a better future for the NFL, the players, and the fans.
The clubs are willing to make many changes proposed by the union, and they have modified their economic proposals in numerous respects. We need an agreement that — when looking back two, four or 10 years from now — both sides will recognize as fair, smart, good for the game, and good for all involved, including players, fans, and clubs.
Regrettably, the union’s leadership has walked out and is refusing to participate in collective bargaining. The union has insisted on a continuation of an unsustainable status quo rather than agreeing to reasonable adjustments that reflect new economic realities we all have experienced. The status quo would also mean no improvements for retired players, too much money to a handful of rookies, and no changes to improve our drug programs.
The union’s abandonment of bargaining has forced the clubs to take action they very much wanted to avoid. At the recommendation of the Management Council Executive Committee under the authority it has been delegated by the clubs, the league has informed the union that it is taking the difficult but necessary step of exercising its right under federal labor law to impose a lockout of the union. The clubs are committed to continuing to negotiate until an agreement is reached, and will gladly continue to work with the FMCS.
The clubs believe that this step is the most effective way to accelerate efforts to reach a new agreement without disruption to the 2011 season. The clubs want to continue negotiating intensively to reach a fair agreement as soon as possible. Our goal is finding common ground and resolving the issues with the union. That is why we ask the union to resume negotiations with the federal mediator. The negative consequences for the players and clubs will continue to escalate the longer it takes to reach an agreement.
Our message to the fans is this: We know that you are not interested in any disruption to your enjoyment of the NFL. We know that you want football. You will have football. This will be resolved. Our mission is to do so as soon as possible and put in place with the players an improved collective bargaining agreement that builds on our past success and makes the future of football and the NFL even better – for the teams, players, and fans.
We have great respect for the fans. We have great respect for our players. We have great respect for the game and the tradition of the NFL. We will do everything that we reasonably can to ensure that everyone’s attention returns to the football field as soon as possible.
NFL owners lock out players — 12:39 a.m.
As expected, after the CBA expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Friday, the NFL owners locked out the players, officially triggering the league’s first work stoppage in 24 years. Full story
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