Analysis: the NFL proposal for the "enhanced season"

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Note: Tuesday we will have a projection of the NBA Draft

I have some good news and some bad news about a possible CBA. For the first time in 4 months, the NFL management council reps met with DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA team yesterday. The proposal that the NFL put on the table is an 18 game regular season that would eliminate 2 preseason games.

On the league side, the preseason games are very profitable. The teams generally require season ticket buyers to also pay full price for the 2 preseason games in their stadium. That has been a bone of contention between the Union and the league for several negotiation cycles. The last agreement solved the problem when the union won a percentage of TOTAL REVENUE in the last CBA.

NFL players currently get a “daily stipend” for their work in the preseason. Under the NFL proposal they would get full salary shares for the 2 games that become part of the regular season. That would add 12.5% of their salary to their gross pay. With the addition to individual players pay, the league is hoping that the players will accept a lower total percentage of revenues. That sounds good. However, as is usually the case with big money deals, things are not that simple.

The addition of 2 regular season games would change the nature of the late season. In the preseason, the starters play a maximum of 3/4ths of a game. Most play only 1/2 of the 3rd game of the preseason. The new “enhanced” season would require them to play 8 extra quarters because they would still play the same amount of preseason snaps to get down their timing.

The league has estimated that the 2 extra regular-season games would require the expansion of rosters to 55 from 53. I have done some analysis that indicates a roster of 60 would be required but no one can say for sure.

What we do know for sure is that the elimination of 2 preseason games would reduce the chance for rookies and young players to improve and to prove their value to the team. The NFL needs to find out which rookie or young players will stick and which need to be cut. The result will be a lot more physical practices and a couple of “controlled scrimmages” to replace the preseason games that are eliminated by the proposal. While the league will not comment on this fact, the NFLPA is very much aware of the extra risk to players.

It is not a coincidence that the union has become more sensitive to the “intensity and tempo of drills.” As a result, several teams this year have lost OTA sessions because they violated the guidelines for those practices. The Union warned the players about the OTAs and reminded them to report any possible violations. That indicates that the Union doesn’t view the “enhanced” season as a positive step.

The Bottom Line:

The Union is not going to look on this proposal warmly. It does give the players a reason to vote for the plan but the NFL is going to have to add 7 not 2 players to each team to get the Union to recommend approval to the members. Without that “seal of approval” the membership would not likely support a new CBA.

Technorati Tags: NFL,DeMaurice Smith,NFLPA,Collective Barginning Agreement,CBA,union,enhanced season,18 game regular season,negotiations

Pressure grows on NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith

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The hard line former candidates for the post of NFLPA Executive Director that were defeated by DeMaurice Smith in vote of the Executive Committee last year are clambering again. Former NFLPA President Troy Vincent was one candidate that is reportedly active again in the annual meeting of the union this year. Rumors are that Vincent’s immediate target is current NFLPA President Kevin Mawae. Originally, Mawae was not expected to have any opposition for reelection. Now he will from the hard line group. Mawae is known to be less hard line than his likely opponents. The President must be an active NFL player. If Vincent can get Mawae replaced by a hard line guy, that will put more pressure on Smith to take a more aggressive stance against the owners. It will also put another hard liner on the negotiating team.

There are 4 players that are stepping down 10-man Executive Committee. Those players are Keenan McCardell, Donovin Darius, Mark Bruener, and Kevin Carter. If those 4 are replaced by hard liners, Smith’s position could be in jeopardy. A change at the top of the union’s negotiating team would insure a 2011 lockout.

What restarted the attempted coup is an unanswered question. However, it is clear that one key issue is the change in Smith’s position on a salary cap. Originally he said that he would never present an agreement to the rank and file of the union that included a salary cap. However, now he says he is willing to accept one. Actually, he will insist that a salary floor be included in any CBA. We have all seen the owners keep their hands in their pockets during this free agency period. Smith realized early on that the only way to insure an agreed to percentage of total compensation is to have a salary floor below which a team can not go.

There are other issues at play as well. One of those is the distribution of TV and other “common” income between the teams. The HL faction demands that all teams get an even split. In addition, they want the low income teams to get extra financial help to insure that no team’s salary totals fall below what they think is a reasonable minimum.

What will happen if the hard liners get control of the union?

One thing that has not been mentioned anywhere that I believe will happen is a challenge to the TV contracts that allow the league to be paid even if there is a lockout. The union will likely ask the National Labor Relations Board to strike down the part of the TV contracts that provide payments during a lockout claiming that money represents an unfair pressure against the union in labor negotiations. Given the pro-union stance of the President and his administration, that request to the NLRB will likely succeed. The NFL would take any such action by the NLBR to court. I believe the courts would be the final arbitrator of the issue but that process would take months and the outcome would be uncertain. The court would certainly grant a temporary restraining order to stop networks from making payments to the teams until the case could be heard. That would change the dynamics of the negotiations. The length of the process and the anger on both sides it would generate would further reduce the chances of a settlement in time to avoid a lockout.

The greatest area of focus for the HLs will be the overall percentage of total revenue that the players will get. The owners backed out of the current CBA due mostly to the 58% of total revenues less League-wide Projected Benefits that were granted to the players by the contract. According to some, the owners asked for a 14-18% reduction in the players cut depending on how the percentage is calculated. The union refused. HLs want to keep that percentage within a couple of percent of the expiring deal.

The union HLs want guaranteed contracts for all players. The owners would be stupid to agree to this. However, if they are not getting paid by the networks the owners might be pressured into accepting this. The concept of guaranteed contracts would devastate the league the way it has injured both the NBA and MLB.

What could be worse is that they may demand that all current contracts are guaranteed. Many existing contracts are back loaded to bring up the total dollars for PR purposes. Many older players get back loaded contracts as a matter of respect even when both sides know that those dollars will not be paid. The player will either retire or be cut to prevent getting the back load dollars.

The HL faction also want the union to sue the owners over collusion for failing to spend like the Congress on free agents. That will be a given if the HLs win but might happen regardless of the outcome of the coup.

The hard liners want a floor but no top salary cap to spending by a team. The teams will not be likely to allow that.

The bottom line:

If the hard liners win control of the negotiating committee the odds for a lockout go from around 50% now to around 90%.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: DeMaurice Smith,NFL,NFLPA,CBA,Collective Barganing Agreement,Mawae,Court case,lockout,strike,negotiations
  • Author:
  • Published: Feb 26th, 2010
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on NFLPA Exec. Dir. DeMaurice Smith faces some tough choices.

NFLPA Exec. Dir. DeMaurice Smith faces some tough choices.

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Smith is in the middle of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. According to several sources, the bargaining will continue during the Combine. Here is the problem for Smith. On one side he has to get a deal done that will prevent the loss of paychecks for the players because they are not nearly as financially secure as the owners. But also he has to play politics. He was elected by the executive board almost a year ago as a moderate candidate while the others running were taking a much harder stand against the league. But recent statements from Smith have been much harder in tone than when he was first elected. At the same time his positions on several issues have changed.

Prior to the election, he mentioned that he would be opposed to the reinstatement of a salary cap if 2010 was an uncapped year. There is almost no chance that the two sides will come to agreement prior to Mar. 5. Therefore, 2010 will be uncapped. However, we have seen a number of teams cut expensive older players. We are going to see a lot more of that after the 5th when all cap ramifications disappear. Now Smith realizes that most teams are not going to spend like the US Congress on free agents. He has recently suggested that the union is “open” to discussing a new cap. The advantage to the players is that the cap includes a minimum amount each team has to spend. In 09 that amount was 98 million. Without a cap there is no minimum. Those teams that were losing spending 98 million can lose spending 50 mill and put the difference in their pocket.

Another issue he is hedging on is a rookie salary cap. Just after his election, he indicated that he would expect the league to give up something to get a rookie salary cap. However, somebody told him that the rookies are not union members until they sign an agreement. Since the CBA will set a percentage of the total revenue that will go to players, the division of dollars between the rookies and vets becomes a zero-sum game. The vets will have to be paid what the rookies don’t get.

The biggest single problem for Smith is that the union’s strike fund must support around 1900 players plus the union employees. The owners will be paid their regular TV revenue even if the games in 2011 are not played. That TV money only needs to pay 32 teams and their employees. The union has a lot more mouths to feed with a lot fewer dollars. As a result, the pressure in on Smith to get a deal.

The one thing that he has been very consistent about is any new agreement must include guaranteed contracts. Guaranteed contracts would be a real problem for the league as it has for the NBA and MLB. In those leagues players are paid even after they can no longer compete and are sitting at home watching the games on TV. The question will be can the union hold out long enough to get the owners to accept guaranteed contacts. My feeling now is they will not.

The latest word from Smith was that the league was asking for an 18% reduction in the players percentage. That would take it from 59 to 41 percent. That will never happen. However, the TV revenue continuing puts the union at a serious disadvantage.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday mornings at 11 EST. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: DeMaurice Smith,NFL Football,NFLPA,Collective Barganing Agreement,CBA

Major League Baseball shoots itself in the foot again.

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It’s bad enough if you shoot your friend in the foot. When you intentionally shoot yourself in the foot, you deserve whatever pain results. That is exactly what the pinhead owners of MLB did in signing a new contract with the Umpire’s union without mandating more use of technology for calling balls and strikes.

Until a couple of years ago, the fans were convinced that the umps were blind but recent developments in TV coverage have removed all doubt. Fox and other networks provide a pitch by pitch analysis of the missed calls using computer technology. We can clearly see a ball that is way low being called a strike and a ball just below the letters being called a ball. The union has run the game for years. They have prevented any use of instant replay or other technology that has even been instituted in college football. The reason is simple. The union does not want to allow their dues paying members to look as bad as they are.

The problem is that it doesn’t matter how good the players are, it will be the umpires and their bad calls that will determine as many games in 2010 as they have in the past. Some say that Congress is deaf about what the people want or in the case of the Health Care debacle don’t want. MLB leadership is just as deaf.

By signing a new deal without forcing balls and strikes to be called by technology, MLB has told the fans that it doesn’t care about them or about the game. At some point, the fans are going to have to show the owners that we don’t care about them or their game. That is the only way that things are ever going to get any better.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: MLB,Baseball,Umpires,Technology,Calls,Balls and strikes,Union,stupid

Baseball needs to upgrade Umpires NOW!

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                       MLB Umpire Foster

MLB’s reputation has taken major hits from the steroid scandal, missing the playoffs because of a strike and leadership of the some times blind but always intellectually challenged Bud Selig. But there is a bigger problem with the game—the ineptness of some of its umpires.

Umpire Marty Foster covered 3rd base last night sort of. At least he was paid to do that. In the first inning he called Derek Jeter attempting to steal 3rd. The ball got there in time but Jeter was never tagged. Jeter complained to Foster and was reportedly told that he didn’t have to be tagged to be out. When Jeter told Yankee manager Joe Girardi what Foster had said, Girardi exploded and got thrown out of the game for arguing the call. Maybe someone should buy Foster a copy of the MLB rule book. Even if they did, I doubt he would read it.

The umpires were already under the gun for inaccurate ball and strike counts. New technology has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that umpires are not able to tell a strike from a ground hog. Baseball has always said that it can live with a wider than legal strike zone as long as the calls are consistent for both sides. But the only consistency is how inconsistent the calls are. The union is fighting any use of instant replay including the limited use now approved. They want to keep the ineptness of their members a secret. But we all know they are inept. The sport needs instant replay to correct the most egregious mistakes.

The umpires are above criticism by players, team managers, and owners. Baseball fines and can suspend those individuals for saying anything negative about the boys in blue. Fortunately, there is nothing that the union can do to me. Unfortunately, there is very little I can do to the union as well.

If baseball ever wants to convince people like me that the game is fair, it is going to have to use instant replay to eliminate the stupidity and bumbling calls of their umpires. Balls and strikes need to be called mechanically. The existing technology can do that as fast as the umpire behind the plate but with total accuracy. Errors in calls on the bases need to be corrected real time as well.

The game deserves better. The players that work so hard hopefully with out the assistance of steroids deserve better. Most of all, the fans that pay to see the travesty laughingly referred to as MLB and those that buy the products that support the game deserve it as well. Unfortunately for all those people, the Umpire Union is so strong that instant replay will never be used beyond those approved now. In fact, look for the union to negotiate that use out of their next contract.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Foster,Jeter,Yankees,Girardi,Umpires,Selig,union technology,instant replay
  • Author:
  • Published: Jun 22nd, 2009
  • Category: MLB Baseball
  • Comments: Comments Off on Don Fehr was a blessing and a curse to baseball.

Don Fehr was a blessing and a curse to baseball.

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Don Fehr, Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, is stepping down. Very few people in the history of sports have had such a massive impact on their profession. Some insist that Fehr was a blessing to the sport. Others are just as aliment that he was a curse on baseball.

Fehr was a blessing:

There is little doubt that Fehr has been the most powerful man in baseball since Bud “I see nothing” Selig took over as acting Commissioner and then had the acting removed. Someone had to run baseball. There is also no doubt that Fehr has been the most powerful sports union leader in the US. He has overseen the largest increase in earnings ever seen in baseball. He also has helped increase the guaranteed minimum baseball salary by a factor of nearly 5.

He has also strengthened the position of the MLBPA to the point that an owner can not sneeze without his permission. Selig couldn’t suspend a ball without first checking with the Union. But from the last strike in 94, there has been labor peace and great revenue growth.

Fehr was a curse:

Three things fall into the curse category. First and most important was the strike of 1994 that wiped out the World Series. That almost drove baseball to hockey status. But the sport recovered thanks in part to the next Fehr curse—steroids.

I don’t blame Fehr for stopping any reasonable testing policy in baseball. Selig and the owners were almost equally at fault. However, Fehr alone had the power to insist on a league wide testing program without the approval of the owners or Selig. He did not. Instead, it was steroids that drove the home run battle between Sammy “the cork” Sosa and Mark “the needle” McGwire. The chase to the single season HR record in 1998 brought the paying fans back to the ballparks. There are reasons to believe that the game might never have come back from the 94 strike had the juiced ball not met the bats of the juiced players so often.

The 2003 so called anonymous test to determine if a league wide testing program was necessary found that 104 players tested positive for steroids. Two of those names have leaked out include Sosa. The leaks have been the only thing anonymous about the test. New names will undoubtedly be leaked soon at a 24 hour sports channel near you.

The third reason people site is the 1985 strike. While this stoppage did not begin to do the damage that the 94 strike inflicted on the game, it was painful as well.

Fehr is leaving a year and a half before the next contract expiration. The rumor is that MLBPA general counsel Michael Weiner will take Fehr’s place. Weiner is considered to be more pragmatic than Fehr. We will see. But with the economic downturn, even the Yankees are down in attendance. Of course $5,000 a seat is a little much to watch the Yanks beat up on the underlings of the American League.

If we can get a deal that keeps the boys of summer on the field, Weiner will begin building his own legacy. If not, that will begin his legacy as well.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: Fehr,strike,MLB,MLBPA,UNION,STEROIDS,Weiner

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