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Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

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Old 03-08-2006, 01:52 AM   #1
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Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

Here's an interesting article by ESPN.com's John Clayton about the status of the owners' meeting regarding the CBA. Normally, I would simply post this in the news wire, but given the importance of the talks and the article's insight, I think it is worthy of a locker-room thread.

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- For the first three hours of Tuesday's crucial NFL owners meeting here, everything was informational. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and others detailed the six-year proposal from the NFL Players' Association that commanded 59.5 percent of team revenues. Like patients receiving medicine, the owners took the bad news dose by dose.

Labor costs were much higher than expected. Provisions in the deal irritated owners and front-office people alike. Few liked what they heard.

The tone of the meeting changed when the subject turned to revenue sharing, a problem within the league that has been getting worse for the past two years. In response to a question, Tagliabue stood up and delivered what some considered to be the best speech in his term as commissioner.

Remember, Tagliabue isn't taking a position -- publicly or privately -- on whether owners should accept or reject the players' proposal. His agreement with NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw was to present the union's final proposal to the full body of owners, even though he knows the costs it carries are probably more than the owners are willing to accept.

Yet, during Tagliabue's answer that turned into a speech, he emphasized the importance of walking out of this meeting Wednesday with some kind of a deal. He knows Upshaw is done negotiating. The union granted the owners a three-day reprieve for the start of free agency in order for them to decide if this deal was acceptable.

But Tagliabue's words hit home.

"I think he has made it very clear to me and the other owners that the future of labor relations, player relations, union relations are going to be decided in 24 hours," Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said. "I never heard Paul more opinionated and more animated and committed and passionate as he was tonight. I'm extremely impressed with his positioning, his leadership and his passion, which really came up in the afternoon sessions."

Owners wouldn't repeat Tagliabue's words, but they were apparent. Negotiations with the union are done. The players were willing to reject the NFL's last proposal and start free agency Sunday night. The league was heading toward an uncapped 2007 and a possible lockout in 2008 had someone not done something.

Though Tagliabue didn't want to take the union's proposal to the owners, it was the only way to salvage the salary cap and labor peace. He got all the owners to Dallas and into the same room on Tuesday. On Wednesday, either the NFL will come up with a revenue-sharing plan to make the union's proposal work, or free agency will start at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and the labor problems will escalate.

Tagliabue made it clear that at this point there is no more negotiating with the union. If the owners accept the proposal before 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, free agency will start at 12:01 a.m. Friday. If there is no acceptance, free agency will start Thursday as scheduled and 2006 will be perhaps the last year in the NFL's history with a salary cap.

Once Tagliabue made his speech, the lobbying began. Votes need to be sold. High-revenue teams have to sign off on a revenue-sharing plan that will cost them money. Low-revenue teams have to be convinced that the plan will keep their franchises financially solvent.

Tagliabue summed up history and the future with one long, well-narrated answer. Half the owners in the room are new to the league since the 1980s. They didn't go through the labor problems of the NFL of the 1970s and '80s. They didn't own teams when the NFL and NFLPA forged a salary cap agreement from years of lawsuits and one painful settlement. The NFL almost lost a season like hockey in the 1980s.

Upshaw and Tagliabue get along well and can negotiate deals together, but they aren't going to be around forever. Tagliabue's contract is running out, and he might retire before long. Upshaw has two years remaining on his deal.

If the NFL lets the salary cap disappear, it might be impossible to bring it back, because Upshaw and Tagliabue might not be there to fix it.

These are 24 of the most critical hours in the league's history.

"Paul as been a tremendous communicator," Tisch said. "He has really given Gene's benefits of the deal to the owners. I'm sure afterward, a number of owners will have an opinion. You know, like any other negotiation, when the clock gets to 11:59, I think things get pretty close."

Some owners were getting optimistic vibes from the room that something could pass before Wednesday night. Others like Bob McNair of the Houston Texans were pessimistic. "There's a lot of work to do," he said.

"I'm sold we negotiated the best we can under the circumstances," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said earlier Tuesday. "So I think we ought to take a look at this thing at its face value."

Here are a few other provisions of the deal.

Teams will be able to use their franchise tag on a player more than once, but if they franchise a player for a third time, they will have to do it at a salary equivalent to that of a top-five quarterback, the highest-paid position in football.

Contracts for players selected in rounds two through seven of the collegiate draft will be limited to four years in length. More and more teams have been trying to lock second-day draft choices into five-year contracts that prevent the player from hitting restricted free agency after year three and unrestricted free agency after year four.

Bonuses in contracts will be pro-rated over five years this year and over six years in 2007, but in 2008 the pro-ration reverts to five years.

The Tuesday meeting ended at 10:15 p.m. ET, completing more than eight hours of talks. No vote was taken, and most of the evening was spent discussing at least three different revenue sharing plans, plans that have been discussed for years.

Raiders owner Al Davis joked that a lot of people were in the room "giving money away." While the discussion was good, no revenue sharing deal was close to settled. "Whenever you discuss revenue sharing, it's like Groundhog Day," Colts owner Jim Irsay said.

Steelers owner Dan Rooney was asked if there was any progress as the meeting ended. "Nothing worth talking about," he said.

Talks will resume at 8 a.m. ET Wednesday, giving the owners 11 hours to get word back to the NFLPA about whether they accept the proposal or not.

One thing is clear: There will be no extensions past Wednesday.
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:55 AM   #2
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

No longer do discussions about the CBA focus on the greedy players, they are, and should be, about the greedy owners. I hope that cooler heads prevail and the owners can come to terms with the fact that they need to come to some sort of agreement with the NFLPA. Like it or not, the union has a strong legal hand. If the owners don't realize it and accept the latest proposed extension to the CBA, they are plain dumb.
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Old 03-08-2006, 02:06 AM   #3
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

no more five year deals for second round picks, and 5 year proration instead of 6. boo.

The article didn't mention the details of the cash over cap rules... which have to be stupid, cause the overspending is biting us in the arse right now, so doubly penalizing it is a bad idea.
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Old 03-08-2006, 02:07 AM   #4
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

It may not be a good deal, but the prospects of losing the salary cap altogether is too great a risk to the owners--not to mention the impending lock-out in 08.

Make the deal, damn it!
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Old 03-08-2006, 02:09 AM   #5
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

"potential (but very likely)" lockout

If danny is upping his ticket prices, i rather keep those profits in house. screw it. let's go fire and brimstone and scary voices and s**t.
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Old 03-08-2006, 02:10 AM   #6
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWsleep
It may not be a good deal, but the prospects of losing the salary cap altogether is too great a risk to the owners--not to mention the impending lock-out in 08.

Make the deal, damn it!
Yup. Not to mention that the union really has the league by the balls when it comes to legal issues. If the union were to take the league to court, we'd be in for a big mess.
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Old 03-08-2006, 02:21 AM   #7
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

I dont see the owners agreeing to the contract...
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Old 03-08-2006, 03:27 AM   #8
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

Why would the players insist that the signing bonus proration be limited to 5 years instead of 6? What do they have to gain by shortening the proration period? I might be way off here, but it seems that if the proration period is longer, then each player's cap hit through the first 3 years of a deal (the only years that usually matter) will be lower, thus reducing the need for a restructure/release.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-08-2006, 03:30 AM   #9
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

i say, screw the union...
screw the cheaper owners like the bidwells and rooney..
snyder works his butt off to get his position, let the others do the same.
if this goes down, a lot of older players are never going to see paydays like they are getting now. upshaw is not going to be a very popular guy in 6 months.
finally, i will have sympathy for the players when the union does something about the older players from decades past who never got a good deal and now are screwed more by the union than the league ever ...

time to go to the mattresses, snyder...
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Old 03-08-2006, 09:58 AM   #10
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

This is a bad deal for the owners, I really doubt it gets signed.
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Old 03-08-2006, 11:54 AM   #11
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daseal
This is a bad deal for the owners, I really doubt it gets signed.
It's bad for certain owners, not too bad for others. Just depends on how much revenue they're willing to share.

Ramseyfan, I think it's hard to criticize the owners as a group. The NFL has changed now, with stadiums being privately funded, owners need the ability to retain enough of their own local revenues to pay the debt on their huge stadiums. If I were Bob McNair, and I had just borrowed tons of money to buy the Texans and the stadium, and then I got forcefed a revenue sharing plan saying I had to pay even more of my local revenues to other teams, I'd be miffed. McNair needs those local revenues to finance his stadium.

If there are owners out there without huge financial burdens, and yet are still opposed to the deal, those owners could be called dumb. But I can't fault Bob McNair or Dan Snyder for having trepidations.

The players' demand is pretty crazy when you think about it. The cap right now is at $94.5 million. If this deal goes through, the cap will go to $108 million. That's a friggin 14% raise, with further raises to come each year as the salary cap grows in concert with league revenues. I wish my paycheck was doing that.
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Old 03-08-2006, 12:42 PM   #12
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramseyfan
No longer do discussions about the CBA focus on the greedy players, they are, and should be, about the greedy owners. I hope that cooler heads prevail and the owners can come to terms with the fact that they need to come to some sort of agreement with the NFLPA. Like it or not, the union has a strong legal hand. If the owners don't realize it and accept the latest proposed extension to the CBA, they are plain dumb.
I don't see how. Regardless of how strong the players legal hand is, their proposal and positioning is way over the top and not in the best interest of the sport, the teams or THE MAJORITY OF THEIR PLAYERS (the clear winners on this deal are the super stars -- marginal and older players get further marginalized).

The only question is, is no deal even worse? Certainly not for everybody.
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:04 PM   #13
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

just in from yahoo.com news

"NO DEAL!!!!"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060308/.../fbn_nfl_labor
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:15 PM   #14
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

is that from yesterday? I dont see anything anywhere else about them not coming to an agreement today...
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:22 PM   #15
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Re: Clayton - The Most Important 24 Hours in the History of the League

Quote:
It's bad for certain owners
The revenue sharing, sure. But giving 59.5% to the players? The owners wanted 56% and the players wanted 60%. They only budged 1/2 a %. No thanks (perhaps Im reading this wrong) Thats a difference of what 40-50M per %?
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