The NFLPA organized a conference call specifically for sports bloggers to ask any questions we like on the CBA. Ken and I got to spend the day at their offices along with other bloggers last year, and they're truly trying to get the word out that this lockout is real and coming.
George Atallah (NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs), Kevin Mawae (NFLPA President), Jim Leonhard (Jets safety) and another players were on the call answering questions. I've paraphrased their answers below:
HH: There are a slew of reports out there that the NFLPA went ahead and filed their collusion case against NFL teams, which you had held back on so that sides could focus on the CBA....are the gloves coming off at this point?
George Atallah: All I can do at this point is confirm that report. I can't really comment and I don't see it as the gloves coming off.
Other blogger: What is the top priority/sticking point for the NFLPA?
NFLPA: Revenue sharing is the core issue at heart. Why do [the owners] want 18 games and 18% of revenue back. It can't be justified if we don't have financial information. What are we negotiating for? It's a sticking point. Owners want roll backs and players are asking for data. An owner recently the last couple months adding two games wouldn't impact injuries. What data do you have to back that up?
An example of what the union did, the 'Supplemental Sharing Program,' the owners attempted to eliminate it. The players filed a grievance to keep it for this year (2010). Every small market gets $20 million per team. This revenue sharing gives the small markets a chance to be competitive and meet their salary cap obligations."
The Owners meetings is in NYC this week. If you're claiming your losing money and we need to take a paycut, show me that. The owners just signed a $1.6 billion deal with MNF, so hard to believe your'e losing money.
What's the NFLPA's priority of not going to 18-games?
George: You've heard what Ray Lewis and Tom Brady have said about 18 game seasons. I listen to the players who've told me: "I cannot physically take another 2 games."
Jim Leonhard: "Whatever decision comes down, we'll do it and we'll be happy to do it, but it's a toll on our body. The best team in the playoffs is usually the healthiest. To play at high level for 5 or 6 months is taxing."
How have the negotiations for the credits for developed stadiums been going?
George: "We offered dollar for dollar for stadium upgrades and we're waiting to hear back. The new Meadowlands stadium the players contributed $800 million and for the Cowboys stadium next to $400 million.
How does credit come back to players?
George: If revenues go up, every dollar is an investment to revenue, which means salary caps goes up and more money for the players.
Is decertification still an option?
George: We have Authorization by every team, but its an option we dont want to use. It's not 100% full proof like it was back then. We want a deal in place now.
If the Union does decertify, the NFL will not be able to lockout the players. There are reports that owners are hell-bent on a lockout than continue with the revenue plan as-is.
Another blogger asked if teams would be able to sign their current RFAs, at the least, and George said we don't know what the rules will be for that.
Visit NFLLockout.com for more info and to help block the lockout.