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SteelCityMom
03-13-2011, 10:11 AM
NFL insiders react to rough day
By Associated Press
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Owners, players, NFL executives, it didn't matter who you asked: Saturday was a dark day for pro football.

In the wake of the players' union decertifying Friday, then filing antitrust lawsuits, followed by the league staging a lockout, it took some searching to find any brightness.

The optimism came in trickles, focusing on the amount of time remaining before the 2011 season is scheduled to kick off.

"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," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a member of the league's labor committee who has been visiting Israel while talks collapsed. "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.

"While disappointed by (the NFLPA's) action to decertify, I remain confident that an agreement will be reached and that the 2011 season will be played. 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."

So does Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, who sees nothing but losers right now.

"I don't know who wins," said Ditka, an Aliquippa native and a prominent voice for helping retired players. "Decertificiation, I disagree with it. I think there is enough in the game they can split it up and be happy. But evidently, they don't feel that way."

Obviously.

Many teams issued statements yesterday about the league's first labor stoppage in 24 years.

In about a week, some teams were set to begin offseason workouts. While they will continue their preparation for April's draft, which was protected under the collective bargaining agreement that expired Friday, there isn't much other business to do.

Still, those clubs tried to reassure fans that they wouldn't be idle.

"Some aspects of this offseason may look different," Bears president Ted Phillips said, "but our commitment to winning remains the same. We need to build off the success we had in 2010. 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."

Players already are scattered throughout the country and generally were kept informed of proceedings in Washington by their union representatives. The players overwhelming approved decertification in team votes last year.

So, while there was discouragement with the impasse, there wasn't shock.

Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington, recovering from right shoulder surgery, called decertification "the last option for players to be able to work if there was no agreement."

"Some unions would not have made such a bold move because they are about the 'union' and not its workers," he added. "I still think that a compromise will be reached. This is just the nature of the situation, and that's why they call it 'business.' "

A business whose news paled compared to elsewhere.

Clark Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, spent time Friday night watching coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

"As I watched that catastrophe unfolding," Hunt said, "it certainly put in perspective how insignificant the NFL Players Association dispute is compared to a tremendous tragedy like that."



Read more: NFL insiders react to rough day - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_727185.html#ixzz1GUMhaELP