A recent article has been released discussing some NFL player's "take" on the alleged final offer the owners made before the NFLPA opted to decertify and begin preparations to file an anti-trust lawsuit. Feel free to read the article in it's entirety, but I am curious about a few of these excerpts from the players.
“I think it was all a show, with no real intent to get a deal done, other than just to say they made a proposal—that was no different than anything else that they proposed over the last couple years, couple months, couple weeks,” said Brees, a named plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Ok, so what I take from this quote from Drew Brees is that the final offer the owners proposed was similar to offers they had been proposing the last few weeks. If that is the case, then what in the world were the players thinking this whole time by not taking this offer??? The players (or maybe I should start saying DeMaurice Smith) were winning on 95% of the issues with this proposal, yet they stood firm on requiring more financial data than what was eventually provided. Was it REALLY that important to make the owners open their books entirely at that point? Isn't a couple of hundred million dollars worth it when you were getting the rookie wage settings, retirement healthcare package, and keeping the 16 game schedule for at least two more seasons; even more so considering with the revenue increases from the new TV contract that the players wouldn't technically be "losing" any money, but would be at the very least staying at the same total revenue take with expected increases come 2012 and beyond???
“It just seems odd you would wait until Friday to put out a 20-point proposal, when each point has a number of different details in it,” Saturday said.
Brees and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday(notes), also a member of the players’ executive committee, complained that the players were not given enough time to assess and ask questions about the proposal owners made Friday morning.
The players weren't given enough time to evaluate the proposal??? Well, according to Brees, it's "no different than anything else that they have proposed over the last couple of years...months...weeks", so why would you need all this extra time to evaluate it? Has the players' union NOT been evaluating offers from the owners over the course of these last few years, let alone the last few weeks? Have they just put their fingers in their ears and shouted "LA LA LA, CAN'T HEAR YOU UNTIL YOU OPEN YOUR BOOKS"? Let's just say, to save speculation, that the offer was different enough, despite Brees's words, and they needed time to evaluate; ok, so why walk away at that point? Why not just set another extension to evaluate a very favorable offer and build from there? Maybe the owners are "fibbing" a bit on the supposed offer details or one was never made, prompting the players to do what they had to do. But with these words from the players themselves, it looks like an offer was at least made, and why there was no attempt to keep negotiating, one has to question the players' intent.
“If we’re going to talk about ‘trust,’ maybe you should ask the owners if they trust each other to see each others’ books,” Mawae said. “I think that’s a greater issue than the players trusting the owners.”
Under the old CBA, owners received more than $1 billion to cover certain operating expenses, before other money was split with players. When negotiations began on a new deal, the owners sought an additional $1 billion off the top. Both sides acknowledge there was movement in that area.
But as the NFLPA’s lead spokesman, George Atallah, put it Monday: “The perception is that we were really, really close. The reality is we really, really weren’t.”
Not many can blame the players for wanting disclosure to financials in giving up a rightful piece of their business as partners in this endeavor. With that said, the information that was given to them from the owners allowed some movement in the money that would be sliced off the top. Showing the last 5 years from this economy should be enough for any intelligent business partner to see that costs have gone up while individual profit averages per team (business) have gone down. What would seeing the past 10 years have shown? That they made money before the economy took the plunge it did the last five years? Ok, so in tough times, eveyone has to give a little back to their place of employment in faith that it will all come back around when the economy pulls out of this mire, and that's even in non-union enviroments. With a union, it's that much easier to negotiate money when the cash flow is strong. A similar opt-out clause, possibly sooner than the previous CBA agreement to take quicker advantage of the economic turnaround when it happens, probably could have been negotiated, if the NFLPA was willing to cede something in return, like the couple of hundred million in revenue right now. So they weren't "really, really close", but the movement towards that should be enough to keep negotiating.
“We would get back together with them tomorrow if they wanted to. We’re not the ones who walked out. We’re not the ones who renounced our status. We’re not the ones who filed litigation,” Pash said. “So we would get back together with them tomorrow. And if they have questions about our proposal, we’d answer them. If they have alternatives they want us to consider, we’d consider them.”
Mawae said that if the NFL contends the union walked away from mediation, “that’s a fabrication and a lie. We sat in that room … Tuesday and Wednesday of last week for 16 hours. … We met face-to-face a total of 30 minutes.”
Hmm, so they negotiated for 16 hrs., and met face-to-face for 30 minutes. I'm not even sure what that has to do with anything considering that the NFLPA did in fact choose to decertify, and while the owners are trying their darndest to make sure everyone knows that, the players, specifically the former NFLPA representatives, need to start doing a much better job spinning it in their favor; from several polls of fans feeling that it is the players' fault that this didn't get done, they are failing at getting the public support. Not to say that the owners wouldn't have walked away if they had the option, but it didn't serve them any good to do so, even if the "war chest" of TV contract money was still intact, because they had to have known the players would decertify as soon as the lockout was eminent; this decertification would have effectively taken this to court anyway with an injunction to stop the lockout, followed by the anti-trust lawsuit, where any competent judge would have ruled against their "war chest", forced them to open their books, and dragged on through the summer and potentially into the 2011 season, which no one wanted. Considering all of that, it's extremely hard to imagine that the owners wanted a lockout and the NFLPA decert.
So maybe I'm misunderstanding some of the quotes here, and maybe I'm taking some of these things out of context. Feel free to critique or better explain some of this in the comments, but all-in-all, it is all undoubtedly pretty questionable from the players standpoint.