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Saints QB Drew Brees explains players side in NFL labor issue

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by DenverBolt67, May 26, 2011.

  1. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Saints QB Drew Brees explains players side in NFL labor issue - Jim Trotter - SI.com

    NEW ORLEANS -- March 11 has become a sort of defining point in the labor mess between NFL owners and players. That was the day the Players Association, after two years of failing to make progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement, decertified as a union and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The owners responded by closing their doors and locking out the players, ostensibly suspending on-field business until a deal is reached.

    Saints quarterback Drew Brees ponders the timeline and presents a different starting point for the league's first work stoppage in 24 years. It is Aug. 20, 2008, the day longtime union leader Gene Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer. Few people knew about Upshaw's illness, and his passing created a temporary void within the Players Association.

    "Ever since Gene Upshaw passed away -- I'm just going to lay it all out there -- the owners saw blood in the water," Brees said Wednesday after a players-organized workout at Tulane University. "They felt like, 'This is our opportunity to take a significant piece of the [financial] pie back at all costs, a piece that we will never have to give back again. This is our chance, while they don't have leadership, while they're scrambling to find a new executive director. This is our time.'

    "I can point to about five different things to prove to you that they were ready to lock us out. They opted out of the last year of the [CBA] deal; they hired Bob Batterman [who oversaw a lockout of NHL players]. They tried to take the American Needle case to the Supreme Court to basically give them an antitrust exemption or single-entity status, but were defeated 9-0; they established new TV deals to pay them in the event of a lockout, but we were able to put a freeze on that money because they did not negotiate in good faith and broke the law. And they had an internal NFL document that was leaked -- a decision tree -- that said smack dab in the middle of it 'financial needs in a lockout.' That was in 2008, OK? So you're telling me that they had no plans to lock us out and really wanted to get a deal done? I don't think so."

    Brees was just getting started.

    "Their philosophy was, We're going to give you a very subpar deal, a slap-in-the-face deal, and hope that you'll accept it because hopefully we've intimidated you enough into thinking that this is a take-it-or-leave-it deal, and you're just going to succumb to the pressure," he said. "Well, guess what. We're a lot more informed and educated than in the past, and we're much better businessmen than you think and we're going to stand up for what is right and what is fair. Fifty-fifty is fair. It's been fair for the last 20 years and I think the game has done pretty well over the last 20 years. I think franchise values have gone up at a pretty good rate over the last 20 years. So you can't sit here and tell me that the system is broken."

    The owners contend that costs are outpacing revenues, therefore the financial scales need to tilt more in their direction. The question is, how much? And how best to achieve relative balance?

    Like with any negotiation, each side is going to put on its best face and spin for public opinion. Outsiders will get truths, half-truths and outright lies. But this much we do know: For all the talk about the owners' proposal on March 11 including many player-friendly elements -- i.e., an opportunity to maintain medical coverage post-retirement, reduced offseason workouts, no 18-game schedule without the players' consent -- it also missed on the point around which this whole issue revolves: revenue distribution.

    The players had proposed slowing down the growth of the salary cap by agreeing to defined -- or pegged --caps beforehand. If revenues increased beyond expectations, the owners would then receive up to 1.5 percent off the top, with the sides splitting the rest. That proposal not only was rejected, but also the owners' offer last week did not include any mention of projected salary caps. That begs the question: How can you be serious about getting a deal done if you fail to address the key issue? In fact, some would say it's the only REAL issue.

    A league official declined to comment on the owners' last proposal and said the negotiations are confidential because of a court-issued gag order. In the meantime, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday, at the owners meetings in Indianapolis, that the league is getting closer to the time when it will need to consider canceling the first preseason game. The players successfully sued to lift the lockout -- which would force teams to open their doors and resume business -- but the owners won a temporary stay. The formal appeal will be heard June 3.

    "If we miss football games because of this lockout, it would be the dumbest thing ever," Brees says. "It would be detrimental to this game. We've built the most popular game in the country; I mean, football means so much more to fans than just a form of entertainment or a game. You can walk around on any street in this city and pull a random person aside and ask him what the New Orleans Saints and football have meant to this town, and you'll see tears and you'll see how important it is.

    "We know that bond, and we understand that football transcends just the playing field. By missing games, I think you're making a huge mistake. I hope the owners understand that, I hope the NFL understands that. This lockout needs to end and we need to get back to playing football. We are always open to continued settlement discussions to end this antitrust case, but in the meantime the NFL needs to stop this lockout. That's why we're in court right now -- to stop the lockout and get back on the field."

    Brees shakes his head at the notion that the players should accept whatever the owners offer, because one is the employer, the other the employee. Such notions totally overlook the fact that the NFL occupies special antitrust exemptions that allow it to limit player movement and earning powers. Plus, the percentage that each side receives in revenues was collectively bargained. The owners approved the last agreement by a 30-2 vote in 2006.

    "We can argue all we want about the 2006 deal, but it was good for both sides," says Brees, who was a member of the former NFLPA's executive committee. "Our point here is, in our offer to them we took pretty good setbacks in a lot of areas. The emphasis that we made in our counterproposal to them all had to deal with money that was going to the retired players' pension as well as player health and safety measures, future medical care.

    "We told them that over the next four years, in our proposal, you'll get a lot of money back in your pocket, and then after four years we'll reset [the revenue split] back to 50-50. They don't want the reset. After four years they want to keep it at their 60 percent and we're at 40 percent, which over the course of four years, if you do the math at 8 percent growth, which is what the league has experienced for the last decade, that's $4 billion that they get back. I can tell you that as part of our deal to them, at 8 percent growth, they would get about half of that -- with no financial justification for anything.

    "What we were basically saying was, 'You know what? You haven't given us any information to really show us proof of your situation, but we're willing to make this work, so we're willing to step out here for you.' Yet for three years they've done everything they can to [prepare to] lock us out. They're going to follow through with it. That is their goal, that is their objective. But they've lost four court cases in a row, not including a temporary stay. The fact of the matter is, when you break the law and do things that at the end of the day are not right and not fair, you get caught."

    Brees knows that his comments will rankle some people. Before agreeing to include his name among the 10 plaintiffs on the antitrust suit, he spoke with a handful of people on both sides of the issue who had been through previous work stoppages. Ultimately he decided he wanted to honor the sacrifices of those who came before him as well as leave the game in better shape for future generations. He also asked himself a fundamental question: "If not me, then whom?"

    "In the end it was really a no-brainer for me," he says. "I can't tell you how many guys, both current players and former players, who have come up to me and thanked me up and down for standing up and putting my name on it. That's how much it has meant to them. So even if there were any doubts about it, the fact that you know you have everybody behind you and the fact that they appreciate that so much, that makes it all worth it. This fight was brought to us, and we feel like we were backed into a corner. We're trying to fight our way out of it. Unfortunately, the only way we can get back on the field is through court. That's why we're there."
     
  2. ntman68

    ntman68 Well-Known Member

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    I wish someone would explain the NFL's anti-trust exemptions to me because I just don't get it.
     
  3. LV Bolt Fan

    LV Bolt Fan Well-Known Member

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    Rep. to Drew Brees
     
  4. Lightning

    Lightning Well-Known Member

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    They don't have one which is why disbanding the Union made the lockout illegal. In the article it states how they tried to attain an anti-trust exception but failed in the "American needle case".
     
  5. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    Drew... do yourself and your "association" brethren a favor and just learn the words "No Comment" and repeat them whenever asked for a quote on this.

    Seriously, the rhetoric is getting more tiresome and beating the dust that used to once be long-deceased horse is pointless. One thing that has seemed utterly lost - to everyone except for Merrill Hoge (which in and of itself is frustrating because Hoge is no genius, so if HE can figure it out surely others could realize it as well) - by both sides in this matter is the idea of bargaining peace. Tags and Upshaw got it. Goodell and D-Smith... not so much. There comes a point where you just need to put a choke chain on your dogs (sorry for the reference PETA members, but it's quite apropos) and MAKE them heel if they refuse to cooperate. Instead, both sides continue to lash out at the other at any chance given to them by the media (who is more than happy to provide the opportunity because it means higher ratings for them) with all manner of contentious rhetoric - where they're really not saying anything new or particularly poignant, but rather just spinning it in a different way like a horse of a different color that still remains a horse.

    What all this is doing though is counterproductive to the end-goal of a collective bargaining agreement; no one is going to consent to bargain or uphold a bargain with a organization they don't trust. And all this bickering and mudslinging does little to breed trust. Again, both sides are more caught up in being Charlie Sheen and "winning" than they are in actually delivering what they both say is their stated objective which is football in 2011 and moving forward.

    Go back to running your Saints through conditioning drills, Drew.
     
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  6. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    If there's anyone who deserves criticism, it's Roger Goodell, not Drew Brees.

    Drew is protecting his livelihood, which is certainly his right. Goodell is supposed to be the commissioner of the NFL as a whole, not just the lap dog of the owners. If Roger wasn't a complete "neuter", to use your dog analogy, he wouldn't have ratcheted up the drama with his bullshit Wall Street Journal op-ed.

    I didn't have that high an opinion of Tagliabue (especially after his negative comments about San Diego), but Goodell is a terrible NFL commissioner. I'm not at all surprised that the players don't trust the guy. Roger Goodell doesn't seem to grasp that just because the owners hired him, doesn't mean he has to be totally biased in their favor.
     
  7. The LBC

    The LBC I'm a Real Prick

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    You're reading too much into the title of Goodell's position. He's effectively the "Chairman of the Board". While he has some authority all of it is given to him by the board which he represents (and who pays him... and who is ultimately responsible for his hiring or firing)... and those are the owners. Hence his loyalties are tied specifically to the owners first and foremost.

    Also, saying Brees is fighting for his livelihood is an exercise in hyperbole - the man has money to blow as quite well demonstrated by his spending in the 100's of $1000's to fund New Orleans player workouts.

    The same way that you're claiming that Goodell doesn't seem to grasp that he should have loyalties to the players (which he perhaps should but certainly not at the expense of his loyalties to the owners), in that same token I could argue that the players don't seem to grasp that they aren't employees. Are employees the engine that allows the machine to function? Yes. But all the same they are not the operator of said machine nor the one providing their engine with fuel (i.e. money).

    I'll say this... it might have been a ploy at trying to get leverage in their favor and an "attack dog" of their own, but the Players Association will eventually regret electing DeMaurice Smith as their head. The man is far more concerned with his own personal advancement than he is with any of the constituency that he is supposed to be representing.

    As to Brees contention that the owners were plotting this all along, there's a certain hole to that logic in that the owners opted out of the previous CBA a solid month before Upshaw died. Unless, of course, Brees would liek to also contend that the NFL owners also plotted to kill Gene Upshaw as a means to this ultimate power play.
     
  8. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    It's rather obvious from the last TV deal that was negotiated, that the owners have been planning for a lockout for some time. To deny that fact, requires a healthy dose of self-delusion.

    DeMaurice Smith isn't doing the players any favors from what I've seen....... there's a lack of sensible leadership on both sides, no question about it.

    Goodell has as much authority as he's willing to fight for... I just don't think there's any fight in that dog. Tagliabue negotiated the prior CBA personally with Upshaw. He didn't need anyone holding his hand to get a deal done.

    It's the classic proverb of too many cooks spoil the soup. You don't need a room full of lawyers to get a new CBA...... they only make things harder. There are far too many people involve at this point to ever reach any kind of settlement.

    Right now, the atmosphere resembles a public divorce case, rather than a labor negotiation.
     
  9. Savage Lizard

    Savage Lizard Charger fan at 7000'

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    I fully agree that they should all just shut up. I get tired of the sabre rattling on all sides. Shut up and get to work on getting this figured out.

    But out of all of them, I want to punch DeMaurice Smith in the face every time I hear him talk.
     
  10. Scott the Rock

    Scott the Rock BoltTalker

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    UUUUhhh.... hey players. Without owners that put themselves in a position to purchase an NFL team you would have no cut of the profits. So go suck on it. I don't care if the owners want to make more money. It's their store! And hey Drew, just cause you got your superbowl and your such a great story and all and you have a hairy mole on your face.....shut up and play football. I'm all for the players not getting screwed after years of punishment to their bodies and helping out retired players that did not have the benefit of today's salaries but that STILL is something the owners get to decide.
     
  11. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Brees signed a 60 million contract, what more can he want???????
     
  12. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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  13. SDRaiderH8er

    SDRaiderH8er Well-Known Member

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    Drew Brees is an attention whore. How many other teams require cameras every time they work out? Is it because Drew Brees was a ranking member of the now defunct union?

    I had a 10 inch woodie when he walked off the Qualcomm field that cold December day!
     
  14. SDRaiderH8er

    SDRaiderH8er Well-Known Member

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    thanks I pinted that picture out and wiped my arse with it after getting rid of a carne asada burrito
     
  15. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    LOL!......... Who's the "attention whore" again? :D
     
  16. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    Screw Mr. Me,Me, Me Brees.
     

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