NFL Labor Pains … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The current climate of professional football is not what anybody involved in the game – owners, players, fans and media – signed up for when we made the pigskin our favorite sporting orb.

Over the last year, the question I’ve been asked most by fans, readers, listeners and posters to the site is whether there will be NFL football in Fall 2011. The owners and players will be without a labor agreement come March 4 and some sort of deal needs to be negotiated between the parties.

I’ve always answered the same way – there are very smart people on both sides of this issue and when smart people get together, if they want to achieve a deal, then they will get it done. It’s impossible for me to believe that either the owners or players want to kill the golden goose that football has become over the last 24 years since the league’s last labor unrest.

I still feel that agreement is possible, but the foundation of my beliefs is being shaken by the current status of negotiations between the billionaire owners and the millionaires that work for them. Right now, the lawyers are in control, as both sides prepare to go to court. The NFL Players Association has been plotting its course of decertification, where they would disband as an association and then file an anti-trust case against the league. The NFL on Monday confirmed that it had filed an unfair labor practice charge against the NFLPA, claiming the union has not bargained in good faith because it plans to decertify.

Right now there’s a lot of yapping back and forth. There does not appear to be any common ground. At the Super Bowl, both sides paraded speakers in front of the media talking about how they wanted to get a deal done. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, union president Kevin Mawae and Jeff Pash, league VP who is leading the negotiations, all talked about how their side was concerned with the fan and how they had the everyday Joe Fan foremost in their thoughts.

Said Goodell: “The ownership is completely focused on getting an agreement that works and is fair to the players and the clubs. That’s their focus right now.”

Said Smith: “We intend to sit down and continue to have a discussion that should guarantee football for our fans, football for our players and football for the people who will certainly become players tomorrow.”

That’s the normal type of posturing at this point in a labor negotiation. There’s a lot of rattling of the verbal sabers, and charges of he said, she said. Reportedly when the sides got together on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning and New Orleans QB Drew Brees sat in on the session. It’s been reported that Carolina owner Jerry Richardson threw a couple of verbal jabs at Manning and Brees based on a perceived lack of understanding of the negotiations.

Arizona K Jay Feeley was in the room as part of the union’s negotiating team. He told a New York radio show about what happened.

“Jerry Richardson, he’s going to criticize Peyton Manning and Drew Brees and their intelligence in our meeting Saturday?” Feeley said. “And sit there and say dismissively to Manning, ‘Do I need to help you read a revenue chart, son? Do I need to help break that down for you because I don’t know if you understand how to read that?’ That doesn’t help us get a deal done.”

This has been, and will continue to be a messy process. Both sides are stocked with stubborn men, who are more likely to say “screw you” in negotiations than actually pushing the agenda towards an agreement. These types of situations will get a lot of attention, while quietly there are negotiators from both sides that are having conversations out of the public eye and likely out of the eye of the owners and players. It’s those talks that will eventually lead to a resolution of the disagreement between the parties.

But we will be subjected in the coming days, weeks and months to all sorts of stories that will take us on a roller coaster of emotions. As this sad tale goes on, we’ll devout more space to taking about various issues involved. But it’s not hard to understand what the real problem is between the parties. The NFL makes an estimated $9 billion a year. The owners think the players get too much of that total, while the players say they are happy with what they are getting and want to maintain the status quo.

It’s about money. In the past there have been times when the labor battle between owners and players was tied up with other issues along with the money, like free agency. That’s not the case now – it’s all about the dollars.

It’s all about greed. When they get down to actually negotiating, it will be about slicing up the pie and making their slice as big as possible. There will be no thought given to how it will affect the average fan or ticket buyer. It will be about how to maximize their take of the golden egg.

Given what happened at the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium, does anyone really think the NFL is actually looking out for the fan? Thousands of people that paid hundreds even thousands of dollars for tickets were treated like cattle. They were forced to stand in long lines, just to get into the stadium, a process that took some more than two hours. Then there were anywhere from 400 to 800 fans who had tickets but no seats because of major screw-ups by the NFL and the Cowboys when it came to the installation of temporary seating in the stadium.

Yeah, the NFL cares about the ticket buying public.

The owners and players must wakeup and understand they can’t scramble the golden egg. The league survived and thrived after the 1987 strike that included the disastrous replacement games. Over 24 years, a lot has changed in all avenues of our society and these days it’s easy for a business and its participants to be forgotten in a snap of the fingers.

If they don’t, they won’t have to worry about thousands of people trying to get into a stadium.


  • NFL DRAFT – declared South Carolina TE Weslye Saunders eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft.
  • BROWNS – finished up coaching staff hires for new head coach Pat Shurmur, announcing the additions of Ray Rhodes senior assistant-defense, Keith Gilbertson as senior assistant-offense, offensive assistant Chris Beak, defensive assistant Chuck Bullough and special teams assistant Shawn Mennenga.
  • COLTS – changed the roles of several assistant coaches, moving Ron Turner from wide receivers to quarterbacks, and Frank Reich from quarterbacks to wide receivers.
  • COWBOYS – claimed LB Mike Balogun on waivers from the Bills.
  • JETS – named Bill Hughan strength & conditioning coach.
  • PATRIOTS – placed the franchise tag on G Logan Mankins.
  • RAIDERS – named Rod Woodson as defensive backs coach.
  • RAVENS – signed head coach John Harbaugh to a 3-year contract extension.

13 Responses to “NFL Labor Pains … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 15, 2011  - Milkman says:

    I hope these people don’t screw up the best sport in the nation. I aggree with Bob about one thing-it would be nice if both sides would stop insulting our intelligence by telling us they are concerned about the fans. That is such a load of crap. They are not the least bit concerned about us, but they should be. Why would they even take a chance of messing up the good thing they have going? Can’t they see what has happened to baseball?

  • February 15, 2011  - James says:

    I left baseball after their last strike and never went back. Been twenty years since I spent a dime in a ballpark. I love the Chiefs but I don’t know if I’ll go back if they go on strike. If the owners lock out the players, screw em.

  • February 15, 2011  - TDKC says:

    Sad. These players have God given talent. Most of the owners inherited their fortune. I feel like a starving man watching the fortunate fight over the finest steak.
    The action and teamwork required to win on an NFL field often illuminates the best of humanity. This dispute will undoubtedly reveal the worst.

  • February 15, 2011  - RW says:

    Haunting lyrics from an old 60s song are apt in this case: “Battle lines are being drawn. Nobodys right if everyones wrong…”

    Are we to get ready for the return of the St Louis Shams? The Philadelphia Illegals? From the rhetoric noise surfacing of late, I fear the direction is clear.

  • February 15, 2011  - Tim says:

    Its no wonder Carolina has the first pick in the draft. With a dumbass like Richardson running that club… If this is the owners’ attitude, then I hope the players bust their ass. If other owners aren’t busting Richardson’s chops over something as degrading as that, then screw them. The owners have some legitimate concerns, but that kind of behavior by an owner is going to rub off on the other owners if they don’t condem it..and rightly so. Richardson shouldn’t see the inside of the room from here on out.

  • February 15, 2011  - timinac says:

    James – I’m like you. I haven’t watched or listened to a baseball game since the last strike. Although I prefer watching football Sunday afternoons, there are certainly other options!

  • February 15, 2011  - el cid says:

    The real amazing part will be after both sides finally come together and they appear on camera shaking hands and telling us everything is all love. Yes then the fans will be expected to return ever-so-grateful with open wallets in hand. Now comes the amazing part, we will.

    Sort of sad, that millions of people, not just season ticket holders, will spend billions of dollars to see the NFL entertain us. Shame on us and I will be right in line with you guys.

  • February 15, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    It would be a waste of my time to choose between the owners and the players. “Nobody is right, if everyone is wrong” type scenario. If I had to come to the reality with no Chiefs games in 2011, I’m not sure I could calculate the loss to my spirit and my soul.

    Granted being a die hard Chiefs fan for 44 plus years it should be a nice break for me to have a Fall and Winter without the usual profound disappointment of yet another season of futility. Maybe I should be grateful to the owners and players for giving me a much needed break from the team that never fails to disappoint me with seasonal regularity. Imagine being able to do more active and fun things with the wife and grandkids on Sunday afternoons and all the cool stuff I could buy with the extra money saved from the Booze that nurse’s my pain on many of those same Sundays. I would probably lose some weight, enjoy Mondays again and not spending so damn much time on the internet reading and responding to Bob’s Cup O’ Chiefs” among other Chiefs gatherers on the web. I could be “Free…Free at Last”. Oh the joy of just thinking about it.

    No, thats not me. I will be totally miserable. I will be pouting and moping around the house like a 3 year old. I will have misty red eyes and the demeanor of an old man confined to a bed with an ugly nurse taking care of me.

    I don’t want to remember 2011 as the year I had to cope without my beloved Chiefs. Nor do I want it to be remembered as the year that Jimbo found no more need for a Lazy Boy and a short glass of Bourbon on ice.
    Go Chiefs.

  • February 15, 2011  - el cid says:

    Good news, Jim Zorn got hired as QB coach. Got to like it.

  • February 15, 2011  - Scooby Doo says:

    Rut Roh, Raggy.

  • February 15, 2011  - Fansince93 says:

    Jimbo, I like you! This made me smile, “I will have misty red eyes and the demeanor of an old man confined to a bed with an ugly nurse taking care of me.”

  • February 15, 2011  - Nate says:

    el cid I agree that it is good to have jim zorn as qb coach for the chiefs. I read the article on the chiefs website and his achievements as a qb coach are impressive. The puzzling thing is he seems to have been a 1 year coach as most of his stops. I wonder if he has some issues we don’t know about? I guess if he only lasts one year we can’t blame that on Todd Haley, because that seems to be the norm for zorn.

  • February 15, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I also think the Zorn hire is a good move. I’m enjoying the CSN (or more appropriately Buffalo Springfield) references and cracking up at Jimbo’s image that I relate to as well. I hate to think about not having my football fix and beloved Chiefs to watch and talk about. Hopefully they’ll work it out but we shall see. I think their only consideration regarding the fans will be how much will we put up with and still return as they fight over the bloated spoils. My bottom line is if they tamper with shared revenues. That’s what killed baseball and why I, like James and others, have never spent a dime of my money on anything related to that sport since. As much as I love football I’ll turn my back on it if they tamper with the formula that ensures the level of competitive balance we now have. Hopefully they’re smarter than that and will continue what Lamar Hunt and others had the foresight to establish.

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