|03.15.11 at 1:19 pm ET|
Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams told Foxsports.com that he has an upcoming workout with the Patriots. (The report was confirmed by WEEI.com.)
Williams, a 5-foot-10, 202-pounder, rushed for a school-record 1,655 yards as a freshman in 2009. However, he saw his numbers take a dip last season after missing four games because of a slightly torn right hamstring and gaining just 477 yards.
Williams said the decision to leave Virginia Tech after just two seasons was difficult one personally, but not from an on-field perspective — the Hokies use a two-back system, and it’s unlikely that his draft stock could climb any higher, especially after 2,132 total rushing yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons.
“The whole decision came down to what I felt was best for me — this has been my dream since I was six years old. This is what I want to do in life, period,” said Williams, who is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick. “I told my mom when I was eight that I just wanted to receive one check, and that was from the NFL. She laughed and said, ‘You’d best stay in school!’ That’s what I told her.
“Also, I didn’t want to come back into another two-back rotation system. That’s what the coaches told me they were going to do, because it worked so well for them. I had to be honest — I had to be stingy. In a two-back rotation, I might drop some more, because you’re not getting into the flow of the game. Getting just five to ten carries a game doesn’t help you that much.”
For more on Williams, we profiled him as part of our “Potential Patriots” series.
|03.14.11 at 11:32 pm ET|
A roundup of lockout news at the end of Day 3 of the NFL work stoppage:
•On the heels of his statement he issued over the weekend regarding the lockout, Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent a letter to season-ticket holders that seemed to intimate that the final proposal to players last Friday offered some wiggle room to the players, but added more of his trademark optimism that a deal will be done sooner rather than later. Here’s the full letter:
“As a Season Ticket Holder, you hold an elite position among Patriots fans, so we wanted to communicate directly with you regarding the recent expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement — the contract between the league and the labor union representing the players.
“As you may know, for the past three weeks, the NFL and the players’ union have been in mediation working to ensure a healthy future for the National Football League. Going into the negotiations, we remained very optimistic that an agreement could be reached if both sides were committed to negotiating.
“Last week, the league and the owners presented the players’ union with a comprehensive proposal that we believe was fair and benefited both parties. We hoped it would serve as a basis to continue negotiating in good faith toward a final agreement. This proposal gave the players many benefits and off-season scheduling changes that they had been seeking. It also offered a 14% increase in compensation, representing a total of $19-20 billion over the next four seasons. Unfortunately, the players’ union walked away from mediation and the ongoing negotiations last Friday, without responding to this proposal. Rather than working collaboratively, they chose to initiate litigation against the clubs.
“While disappointed by their action to decertify and file a lawsuit, we remain confident that an agreement will be reached and that the 2011 season will be played. The NFL, the owners and the New England Patriots organization remain committed to collective bargaining and reaching a new agreement with the players’ union.
“We know that many Season Ticket Holders are feeling frustrated by our inability to finalize a deal with the players’ union. We apologize for any role we played in that. Please know that we are working diligently to assure that NFL operations get back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible.
“As always, we greatly appreciate your support of the Patriots and will continue to keep you informed of any developments as they arise. We encourage you to stay up-to-date on the progress of these negotiations via www.nfllabor.com. If you have any other questions, please contact the ticket office at 508-543-1776 or e-mail email@example.com.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
•The NFL has announced a league-wide policy for ticketholders regarding possible canceled games:
1. We will provide you a full refund for any canceled preseason or regular season home games.
2. If any games are missed, refunds will be paid no later than 30 days after final determination of how many games will actually be played during the 2011 NFL season.
3. You may choose to receive your refund either in the form of a check or credit. We will contact you if any games are canceled to determine how you would like to receive your refund.
4. Simple interest, calculated at an annual rate of 1% will be paid on refunds. Interest will be calculated for the period beginning on the date that a game is canceled through the date that the refund is processed.
Read the rest of this entry »
|03.14.11 at 7:17 pm ET|
With pre-draft workout season well underway, here’s a quick check on the Patriots’ recent activities:
• This is by no means a complete list — instead, it’s list of confirmed meetings and/or workouts, compiled by WEEI.com with help from our friends over at NEPatriotsDraft.com: New England has already held private workouts with defensive back Cortez Allen of The Citadel, defensive lineman Allen Bailey of the University of Miami and tight end Virgil Green of Nevada. In addition, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, as well as Northwestern defensive lineman Corbin Bryant all have workouts scheduled with the Patriots.
•In addition, the Patriots have been present at several Pro Days. Coach Bill Belichick was seen at Miami’s Pro Day, while offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was one of a few members of the New England braintrust who were at Alabama’s Pro Day. In addition, Scarnecchia was seen working out Auburn center Ryan Pugh. And members of the Patriots personnel staff have been confirmed as being in attendance at the following Pro Days: Cal, Fresno State, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arkansas, FIU and Oklahoma State.
•Looking forward, here’s a look at the Pro Day schedule for the upcoming 10 days (information courtesy NFL.com). Based on history, expected Belichick to show up at Florida on Tuesday, as well as (possibly) UConn on March 23.
March 15: California (Pa.), Delaware, Florida, Kansas State, Montana State, Pittsburgh, Southeastern Louisiana.
March 16: Florida State, Hampton, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State, Mount Union, Penn State, Villanova.
March 17: Appalachian State, Lehigh, Marshall, Michigan, Missouri, Slippery Rock, Stanford, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.
March 18: Arkansas State, Missouri State, New Mexico State, Richmond, Temple.
March 21: Abilene Christian, Iowa.
March 22: Georgia, Iowa State, Mississippi, Nevada.
March 23: Arizona State, Boston College, Central Florida, Connecticut, East Carolina, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Tennessee-Chattanooga.
March 24: Boise State, Fort Hays State, San Diego State, South Florida.
|03.14.11 at 10:05 am ET|
Former NFL offensive lineman Pete Kendall appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Quincy native and Boston College graduate worked on behalf of the players’ union in 15 of the 17 mediation sessions over the last couple of weeks.
Kendall said it wasn’t a pleasant experience. “I know that mediation is going to be how I spend my purgatory,” he said when asked if there was anything he took away from it.
Kendall said there were some positives in the negotiations, but not nearly enough. “I will say that there was more progress made up to the point of the initial expiration,” he said. “I think things went backward some from a week ago Thursday to this past Friday.”
How so? “The offer that the players left on the table, in my opinion, was slightly worse than some of the things that were being considered during the week,” Kendall said.
When asked if he thought striking a deal was possible leading up to that initial expiration date, Kendall said it definitely crossed his mind.
“There was a cautious optimism, at least on my behalf, as we approached that first deadline that Wednesday and Thursday,” he said. “On Wednesday, the owners came in and there was some decent dialogue. Thursday, I thought there was a little bit of momentum, but clearly not enough.” Read the rest of this entry »
|03.12.11 at 2:19 pm ET|
On Saturday afternoon, Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft issued the following statement on the labor situation:
“Going into these union negotiations, I was very optimistic that an agreement could be reached before the end of December if both sides were committed to the negotiations. The same was true as we approached the end of the NFL calendar year. We are fortunate to be operating in an industry that is thriving and I know that there was a deal to be done that was a win-win for both sides. I know that Commissioner Goodell and his staff invested a tremendous amount of time and resources to negotiate an agreement that would benefit both parties and allow the league to continue to build for the future without interruption. I remained in constant contact with Roger and the members of the CEC this week and fully supported the proposal we made to the players’ union on Friday. I think the actions of the union to end the mediation process and walk away from Friday’s offer clearly showed their true intentions to take this process to litigation all along. While disappointed by their action to decertify, I remain confident that an agreement will be reached and that the 2011 season will be played. I know that the owners are committed to this process, but that the quickest way to do so is through continued negotiation, not litigation. For the sake of all involved, the owners, the players and most importantly, the fans, I hope we return to the negotiating table very soon.”
|03.11.11 at 11:33 pm ET|
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released the following statement late Friday evening:
Dear NFL Fan,
When I wrote to you last on behalf of the NFL, we promised you that we would work tirelessly to find a collectively bargained solution to our differences with the players’ union. Subsequent to that letter to you, we agreed that the fastest way to a fair agreement was for everyone to work together through a mediation process. For the last three weeks I have personally attended every session of mediation, which is a process our clubs sincerely believe in.
Unfortunately, I have to tell you that earlier today the players’ union walked away from mediation and collective bargaining and has initiated litigation against the clubs. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, our clubs offered a deal today that was, among other things, designed to have no adverse financial impact on veteran players in the early years, and would have met the players’ financial demands in the latter years of the agreement.
The proposal we made included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee a reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).
It was a deal that offered compromise, and would have ensured the well-being of our players and guaranteed the long-term future for the fans of the great game we all love so much. It was a deal where everyone would prosper.
We remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached, and call on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.
While we are disappointed with the union’s actions, we remain steadfastly committed to reaching an agreement that serves the best interest of NFL players, clubs and fans, and thank you for your continued support of our League. First and foremost it is your passion for the game that drives us all, and we will not lose sight of this as we continue to work for a deal that works for everyone.
|03.11.11 at 6:34 pm ET|
In the struggle between the NFLPA and owners, things just got a lot more favorable for the players.
Despite the fact that no lockout of the players has been executed as of yet, things now appear headed to the court of Judge David Doty, an 81-year-old ex-U.S. Marine who has gained tremendous power in NFL circles: Doty’s 1993 ruling in favor of the NFL players gave a handful of NFL players free agency and created the foundation of the collective bargaining agreement we have today. As a result, as long as the CBA is in effect, Doty would be in charge of enforcing the rules.
And when Doty has been challenged, more often than not, he’s sided with the players. There was the initial ruling that paved the way for free agency, and two weeks ago, Doty ruled that $4 billion in future TV revenue the owners had access to in the event of a lockout violated the terms of the collective bargaining deal.
“The players are in a phenomenal position of leverage right now,” said Ron Washburn, who teaches a sports law class at Bryant University. “From the owners’ perspective, Doty has certainly shown himself to be player-friendly in his interpretations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“And this will likely be the most important legal decision in sports of the last decade.”
According to reports, the players and owners are still separated on three major sticking points remain in the battle between the players and the owners: the distribution of roughly $9 billion in revenue, a move from a 16-game to an 18-game regular season and the creation of a rookie wage scale. The two sides have been unable to reach an accord on the main issues, and so now, it appears there will be a lockout, the first work stoppage in NFL history since 1987.
Early Friday evening, once decertification became official, reports indicated the NFLPA has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, a suit that likely alleges a potential lockout would violate players’ employment contracts with teams. (The players’ association had to wait to file the suit because a union is not allowed to sue a party with which it is collectively bargaining.) It’s a suit that reportedly includes Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, as well as teammate Logan Mankins. In addition, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Osi Umenyiora were all also apparently named as plaintiffs.
“It’s important to have big names out front on legal issues like this,” Washburn said. “It will help win the battle of public opinion.”
That suit likely starts a journey to Doty’s courtroom. And while it certainly appears we are heading for a decision that will be in favor of the players — one that could be in court for a few months — Washburn believes the two sides will ultimately avoid a lockout.
“I can’t imagine a scenario when either side could benefit from a lockout,” Washburn said. “There’s just too much money on the table.”
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