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 He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio 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: Aug 22nd, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The pressure is on Delhomme to take the Panthers to the next level.

The pressure is on Delhomme to take the Panthers to the next level.

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It’s hard to find many holes in the Carolina Panthers but there is one Empire State building size question mark—Can Jake Delhomme take the team deep into the playoffs? Delhomme enters his 11th season but he has only 6 seasons starting (not counting his 3 games in 07). He is a slightly above average QB but not the guy that can get a team over the hump to the Super Bowl. In 04 and 05 he threw 53 TDs and only 31 picks. He made the pro bowl and looked like he was about to become a star. That star faided quickly because in 06 he was back to throwing about as many TDs (17) as Ints (11). 07 was a lost year with injuries. Last season was another average season (15TDs and 12 Ints). What was worse, he blew up in the playoff game giving away the hard earned home field advantage and throwing his team right out of the playoffs.

This year will decided if he is the guy or if the team will try to get a starter of the future in what is expected to be one of the all time great QB drafts in 2010. That will be hard without a 1st round pick next year. My projection is that he will not get back to his 04/05 level and will be replaced. The team has Matt McCown who has started but doesn’t scare anyone.

The RB combination of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart is excellent. Williams is under rated and is a good bet for Fantasy football this year. He very quietly had 1,500 yards with an astounding 18 TDs and 5.5 yard average. WOW! One reason was he got some relief from rookie Stewart who ran for over 800 yards. This combination needs Delhomme to be more consistent so that the opponents don’t load the D line against the run. The team added rookie Mike Goodson in the 3rd round. FB Brad Hoover is a solid blocker and can catch and run as well.

Delhomme’s problems are not due to a bad group of WRs. Steve Smith not only can land a punch (for which he was suspended for the first 2 games in 08) but passes like few others. He averaged 100 yards per game and went to the pro bowl again. It seems like Smith had been doing that since 1950 but he is only 30. His running mate is Muhsin Muhammad. He was the #1 WR in Chicago before coming to be Smith’s wing man. At 36 he has lost a little speed but still has the hands and runs sharp routes. Dwayne Jarrett is a solid #3 WR and the team has a few candidates for the 4th guy.

TE is a question mark as well. Jeff King starts because he is a very good blocker and reliable receiver. Gary Barnidge and Dante Rosario who is coming off injury will try to unseat King again.

The O line is one of the great strengths of the team. LT Jordan Gross is consistently playing at a pro bowl level. C Ryan Kalil and RT Jeff Otah are both very young but growing into stars. LG Travelle Wharton is a little over rated but consistent. RG Keydrick Vincent is starting quality but still has upside. The depth was hurt by losing players to free agency due to salary cap concerns.

The D line took a huge hit when DT Maake Kemoeatu was injured and put on IR. He will be missed from a D that had trouble last year stopping the run and getting off the field verses top teams. Franchised E Julius Peppers will have to be most of the pass rush again. The team brought UFA Tyler Brayton in last year but he is over rated. RDT Damione Lewis is OK nothing more. The team traded their 2010 #1 pick to move up to get DE Everette Brown. So far, Brown has not dazzled anyone. The team also has Charles Johnson and Hilee Taylor both of whom can rush the passer.

The linebackers are WLB Thomas Davis, MLB Jon Beason and the always challenged SLB Na’il Diggs. The team has been trying to replace Diggs for several years but finally realized he is fine. Beason has developed into a very good pass defender and can blitz effectively. He made the pro bowl in his 2nd season. The depth consists of MLB Dan Connor and WLB Landon Johnson. Both are good and would start on a lot of teams.

LCB Chris Gamble, RCB Richard Marshall, FS Charles Godfrey and SS Chris Harris start for the Panthers in the D backfield. Gamble says he is a top corner. So far he has been good to very good. Marshall replaces CB Lewis and is a bit of a concern. He has been with the team for 3 seasons and has talent. The safeties are fine but not extra special. CBs Sherrod Martin and C.J. Wilson back up the corners. Reserve Nate Salley at safety really came on last year but was hurt.

OVERALL: The Panthers are as good as any team in the NFC with the exception of QB. That will hold them back again this year and even with a very good record in the regular season, they will be bounced out of the playoffs by Delhomme.

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 He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Panthers,Delhomme,Williams,Stewart,Goodson,Smith. Muhammad,Jarrett,Gross,Kalil,Otah,Kemoeatu. Peppers. Beason,Davis,Diggs,Gamble,Marshall,Godfrey,Harris
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 8th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on San Diego wins the 09 AFC West by default.

San Diego wins the 09 AFC West by default.

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The Chargers are fortunate to be in the worst division in the NFL. They are a good team which puts them into the playoffs by default. They have enough stars to win the division but not enough to get them to the Super Bowl.

QB Philip Rivers is outstanding in the Norv Turner system. He is accurate and tough. His toughness was proven when he played with a bad knee. He had a pass rating of 105 last year and is still getting better. Billy Volek is one of the best backups. That is important because Rivers takes more risks than Turner would like.

The running game will depend a lot on how healthy LaDainian Tomlinson is. His last couple of years have been injury filled. Tomlinson is 30 and that is a magic age where NFL backs turn to dust. The Chargers hope that doesn’t happen this year. The team franchised Darren Sproles to insure they kept him. He is not a 20 carry plus a game guy. The real backup if LT gets hurt might be the versatile Jacob Hester or vet Michael Bennett. Hester ended his rookie season injured but looked good when he got a chance. Bennett has starting experience and is capable of 20+ carries a game.

The receivers are good and Rivers and TE Antonio Gates make them even better. Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers are both first quality receivers. Gates has the ability to get deep in the middle which insures both wideouts get fewer double teams. Malcom Floyd and Craig Davis are capable backups.

In addition to the injury to LT, the O suffered in 08 from poor line play. The running game with Sproles looked great in the playoff win against the Colts but died in the winds of Pittsburgh in the loss to the Steelers. LT Marcus McNeill had an excuse—a bad neck. The rest just played badly. G Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick and T Jeromey Clary return and Kynan Forney is the leading candidate to replace UFA Mike Goff. T L.J. Shelton and G Louis Vasquez are the top reserves.

The 09 Charger defense depends on a pair of creaky knees and the one surgically repaired knee. The two creaky knees belong to NT Jamal Williams. Despite having 11 seasons on those knees, he is the key to the D line of the team. When he is 75% he is one of the best NTs in the league. Returning RE Luis Castillo has to step up his game. He was just average last year. LE is open and Ryon Bingham has the first chance to fill it. Backup E Jacques Cesaire needs to be a factor in the rotation and has a shot to start. NT Ian Scott will sub for Williams.

The repaired knee belongs to pass rusher OB Shawne Merriman. He is the guy that puts the pressure on the QB even through double team blocks. His health can allow his running mate Shaun Phillips more effective as well. Phillips played well when Merriman was out but is not as adept at beating double teams. Rookie Larry English will learn the OB position switching from DE in college. Stephen Cooper and Tim Dobbins are solid inside and former starter Matt Wilhelm provides depth.

The D backs suffered from a lack of Merriman as much as anyone. In 07 Quentin Jammer, and Antonio Cromartie were the best corner combo in the league. Last year Cromartie fell off terribly and disclosed he had a hip problem after the season that caused his decline. If so, the corners should be fine. The FS is solid with improving Eric Weddle in that spot. SS is a question. Clinton Hart will be given the first shot but must be more consistent. Steve Gregory or Kevin Ellison will be starting if Hart fails. CBs Antoine Cason and Cletis Gordon are the primary backups there.

OVERALL: IF, and its a huge if, LT is LT again the Chargers have a chance to compete with the Pats, Steelers, Titans and Colts for the Super Bowl. If not, the Chargers will be out in the first or second round of the playoffs. They would benefit if they could win home field advantage. That might be enough to make an AFC Championship game interesting regardless of who the opponent is.

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 He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Chargers,Steelers,Patroits,Colts,Turner,Tomlinson,LT,Rivers,McNeil,Goff,Merriman,Phillips,Cromartie,Jammer,Williams

The NFL may not play in 2010!

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Fryingpan Sports

The NFL may not play in 2010!

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Troy Vincent Trace Armstrong

By Bill Smith

Technorati Tags: NFL, NFL DRAFT, STRIKE, Upshaw, Vincent, Armstrong, NFLPA, Executive Director, Utt, Covert, Smith, free agent, contract

There is another election going on in March and it will not select a president. It will select the man that will replace Gene Upshaw as Executive Director of the NFL Players Association. This election is critical to every NFL fan because the winner will be the key to the future of the league.

Right now there are 5 candidates. Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong both former Presidents of the NFLPA are the favorites. While both are popular among the players, according to John Clayton’s conversation with him about his possible retirement, Upshaw preferred Armstrong to replace him. Other candidates include former Bears tackle Jim Covert, Ben Utt, who played for Baltimore and Indianapolis, and Washington-based attorney DeMaurice Smith.

The league needs to negotiate a new deal with the players. When Upshaw was the rep for the players, he was able to get them major concessions in the percentage of the total NFL revenue payable to the players and significantly increased the minimum that each team must spend on player contracts. The owners approved the deal but then realized that 60 percent of the money going to the players was too much. Last year they voted to opt out of the current contract.

Under the current agreement, there will be a draft in 2010 but it will be an uncapped year. As things stand now, either the players can vote to strike or more likely, the league can lock them out probably after the 2010 season. There are some that say the league could lock the player out after this season if they voted to do so. While most might not have a problem playing with an uncapped year, some may not want to see the competitive balance go the way of that in Major League Baseball where the baseball version of the golden rule applies. That says “Those that have the Gold (Yankees and Red Sox) rule.” One uncapped year could alter the balance of power in the league for 6 to 10 years.

On the up side for players and free agents in that year, a team could spend any amount of money it wanted to put a championship team together. That means more for some players. There would be no rookie cap so that each rookie drafted could negotiate whatever deal a team would agree to. More money for players—maybe.

On the down side, there would be no minimum amount that an NFL team would have to spend. Because contracts are not guaranteed, a team like the Bengals or the Bills could cut all their players and hire 53 semi-pro players that might work for 100K each. That would reduce their labor expense from around 115 million which is about what they will spend in 09 to 5.3 million and thus they would put a nice chunk of cash in their pocket. Obviously, they would lose games, but they are losing games now at the 115 million level.

Another hit the players would take is in free agency. Now, a player gets to be a free agent after 4 years. If the contract expires without an extension, they would have to play 6 years. There would be a large percentage of the league caught in the change of years of service necessary to become a free agent. In addition, there would be some additional restrictions on free agency due to transition and franchise tag definitions changing. The total amount of money paid for player benefits would also be reduced slightly.

There would be no draft after the 2010 season. Every rookie would be a free agent able to negotiate with any team or all of them at the same time. Kiss competitive balance goodbye along with Mel Kiper. Rather than that happening, the NFL would likely lock the players out thus beginning the first labor stoppage since 1987. We all remember the fun of replacement games, don’t we?

What the owners will do:

Most of the NFL owners won’t want to have an uncapped year because the shift in power that the 2010 free agents would involve would affect league balance for years to come even if there was an agreement later on. They will take a vote to lock out the players before the 2010 season and it is impossible to tell how that vote will come out. My guess is that enough teams will want to play and continue to negotiate that the 2010 season will be played but that is my opinion.

What the union would do:

Gene Upshaw, the Director of the NFLPA who died last year, was under pressure from a handful of members to resign because he had not negotiated the guaranteed contracts that exist in the MLB and NBA. That part is true, but neither of those leagues are giving their players 60 percent of all revenue. The NFL agreement is the most lucrative deal ever negotiated by a union in the highest revenue game in history.

The membership could do what they did in 87 and decertify the union. That would allow them to go back to the courts and sue the NFL for relief. The players won the last suit leading to free agency but what will happen this time is anyone’s guess.

The key issues:

There are really only 2 serious issues. The players want guaranteed contracts and the owners want a reduced percentage of total revenues going to the players. There are a few issues that are red herrings like the rookie salary cap that the owners have been talking about. That is a bargaining chip that will be thrown out to get something else that the owners want.

The owners want to give less than 60% to the players. The only way that can get approved by the players is if the league goes to 18 regular season games. The percentage the players get would be slightly less of an increased total dollar amount.

The players want what the NBA and MLB player have—guaranteed contracts. That should be a deal breaker for the league. Guaranteed contracts have hurt both leagues and would kill the NFL. Coaches in the NBA have no power. The players work extra hard in a contract year then in most cases the performance tails off significantly when they get a big dollar contract. In baseball, it is possible to statistically track the fall in production. One study several years ago showed a 12.5 percent drop in production in baseball from a contract year to the 2 years following a new contact.

What will most likely happen:

I believe that the players will elect Troy Vincent who has been President of the NFLPA for several years to replace Gene Upshaw. He has not indicated exactly where he stands on the issue of guaranteed contracts. IF either the players or the owners have a half a brain in their heads, they will find a way to split up a 6 billion dollar a year pie. That is right sports fans, the expected final revenue figure in 2008 is over 6 billion dollars and is increasing by 10-12% every year!

If a case of “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable” strikes either party, you can expect to see the NFLPA decertify and the NFL owners lock the players out probably before the 2010 season. The union will decertify and the courts will decide who did what to whom.

We may be seeing a rerun of the movie “The Replacements” in a stadium near 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 He has also published several novels on and edits .

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