View Full Version : Until NFL, players start talking, nobody's playing football

03-19-2011, 04:07 PM
Until NFL, players start talking, nobody's playing football

By Clark Judge
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
March 18, 2011Tell Clark your opinion!

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- Most people want to know when we'll have pro football again. Me? I want to know when the NFL and its players talk again because until they do there can be no football.

So let's see what we have here. The league insists it will resume negotiations if players are willing to return to the table. In fact, in a letter commissioner Roger Goodell sent players Thursday he declared "we have said publicly, told the federal mediator, and say to you that we are prepared to resume those negotiations at any time."

Great. So when is that time? Someone? Anyone?

"Anytime they want to reach out," said the Cowboys' Bradie James.

But I thought Goodell just did that. Players don't, and until or unless they do there can be no conversations.

What we have here, folks, is a failure to communicate ... again ... and the problem this time is that Goodell's letter angered and insulted players assembled here for their annual meeting -- with Pittsburgh player representative Ryan Clark charging it was meant "to create confusion and to create dissension."

I don't know about that. But I do know that players aren't going to budge until someone other than Goodell reaches out to them. And that someone would be Jeff Pash, the NFL's lead negotiator. Only they don't want to hear from him. They want their attorneys to hear from him, and if you're wondering why we're in an NFL shutdown you’re getting warm.

The two sides can't even agree on how to correspond with each other, with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Friday saying Goodell's letter did not represent a "good-faith" gesture to resume talks.

And you were expecting progress? Please.

This, people, is why the NFL and its players aren't expected to resume talking until called into a U.S. federal court on April 6. That doesn't mean they can't return to negotiations. It just means that based on what you hear from the two sides these days there's a better chance of finding the Pittsburgh Pirates in this year's World Series.

"The question," said Smith, "is: Is it possible for class counsel on behalf of the Players Association to negotiate with the National Football League with respect to the outstanding case that is pending in Minnesota? Absolutely. The league understands and knows that class counsel and the class of the players can have discussions with representatives or lawyers from the National Football League."

Translation: Smith wants to hear from Pash. The players don't want to hear from Goodell.

In fact, players stood in front of reporters Friday to express disappointment and outrage with his letter, partly because they disagreed with its "key elements" and mostly because they believe -- or, at least, said they believe -- Goodell's intentions aren't sincere. If they were, they suggested, he wouldn't have appealed to them; Pash would've appealed to their attorneys, and by now you should be getting a picture of a Great Divide.

Players even dissected Goodell's letter to the last paragraph where he referred to "your Union" when, they insisted, he and NFL attorneys know there is no union. They're right, of course. So why would he make a mistake like that? Their contention is he wouldn't; that it wasn't a mistake and that it's all part of a plan to deceive and divide, and now you know why we need to hear from the courts.

"Roger was in the [negotiating] meetings for the last 16 days," said James, "and he clearly knows we're a players association and not a union. That fact alone culminates everything that's going on ... That may seem very small to other people, but to us that's the fight we're in."

Right again. It does seem small. But not to NFL players who feel they're getting the short end of the stick when talks get around to a new CBA. They contend that owners drove them to decertify because, basically, players tired of waiting on them to deliver a meaningful proposal.

Only the league counters its proposal was meaningful and that it wasn't the owners who left the negotiating table; it was the players. Furthermore, it says it wasn't the owners who refused to negotiate; it was the players.

I give up. Somewhere in there is the truth, and leave it to the courts to decide.

03-19-2011, 04:35 PM
And yet again... Clark Judge is a tool. I'd like to know how often Goodell fellates him so as to coerce him to write this sort of drivel.