|07.15.11 at 7:09 pm ET|
With all signs pointing to an agreement over the weekend, NFL owners and players issued a joint statement late Friday afternoon acknowledging that significant progress has been made in reaching a new collective bargaining agreement and ending the four-month NFL lockout.
The owners and players met Friday for nearly eight hours, then issued a joint statement about their progress.
“The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues,” the statement read. “Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspect of the negotiations. We will provide additional information [as]developments in this process continue.”
The statement comes as both sides reached a breakthrough in negotiations between NFL owners and players, with the economics of a new collective bargaining agreement essentially finalized.
The sides arrived Friday for negotiations at 9 a.m. and continued talks from Thursday. Friday was considered a significant deadline because of an internal deadline to save the preseason in its normal form. “We made some progress,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told reporters Friday. “We continue to have a lot of work to do. Our lawyers and other folks are going to continue to work through the weekend. Roger [Goodell] and I will either talk or meet starting tomorrow morning. I know everyone is frustrated and they want a definitive answer. I hate to disappoint you, but you’re not going to get one right now. But we’re going to continue to work and that’s a positive sign.”
|07.15.11 at 5:58 pm ET|
Former Patriot and recently hired Ohio State linebackers coach Mike Vrabel joined The Big Show Friday afternoon to talk about the NFL Lockout, his retirement and his coaching future with the Buckeyes. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.
Rumors have been swirling that the NFL Players Association and the owners are nearing an agreement. Vrabel is hopeful that the two sides might reach an accord this week.
“I think for the sake of the players I hope it gets done,” Vrabel said. “But, if the timing’s not right, it’ll move on to next week.”
Vrabel detailed the process to get the actual NFL season underway once an accord is reached.
“I would say that it’s been talked about,” Vrabel said. “And I guess I’ll call that the transition phase into the season. You have to have time for a new league year to begin. And with a new league year comes free agency and then a certain learning process from the players that are on your roster before you get to training camp. There’s a lot that goes into it. And guys like Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick that are used to being general managers are going to feel the crunch of this process, but they’ll live and they’ll be able to survive.
“It’s important that the players have the proper time to prepare mentally for what they’re about to go into with training camp and by that I mean what’s expected of them, what plays are going to be run, what’s the packages, what’s the installation. You know, and then go out there and implement it in practice, but I think, just to go suit up, throw pads on and go out there and play is going to be a detriment to the players and one that’s going to get some guys injured.”
Vrabel, who was active in negotiations for the NFLPA, took a lot away from his experiences haggling with ownership.
“Well I think what it was, it was certainly a learning experience and one that I’ll be able to use as I get older and continue to hopefully coach and be a part of committees and groups,” Vrabel said. “It’s interesting the dynamic of the people that come through there and the people that you meet and the way the meetings are scheduled to go and the way that they end up going and where they go and what direction they head, but I think for the most part they remain positive and there is a respect factor between the players and the owners.”
Vrabel also noted that the negotiations can become very frustrating.
“You can only say the same thing three or four different ways before it just gets to be frustrating,” Vrabel said. “Whether it’s what the players are saying on their side or what the owners are saying on their side, at some point in time you’re just going to have to agree to disagree and go on.
“There are things that the owners think are important and there are things that the players think are important. I think in any good negotiation, you try to fix the other guy’s problem and sort of give some sort of compromise to try to help them fix their problems and the other side needs to help you fix your issues.”
Vrabel talked about the day he realized it was time to hang up his cleats for good.
“I think it was a difficult day because that day was probably January 6 or 7 or whenever we played and I kind of thought that I had come home and kind of told [his wife] Jen and the boys that, you know, that was probably going to be it,” Vrabel said. “I felt like it was it. Probably the emotion of losing a playoff game might have had something to do with it, but I kind of had an idea that that was going to be it. What I was going to do, I didn’t know. And then when the situation with coach [Luke] Fickell came about, that was just an easy transition.”
Added Vrabel: “I just kind of thought, ‘Hey, this is going to be it. This is going to be our last year in Kansas City.’ Something crazy would have to happen back home. Whether it be around Columbus or near Columbus. And then as the offseason started to begin and I started to train as I normally would train, in February and March, I realized that I just couldn’t train and prepare for the rigors of a 16-game regular season and then hopefully the playoffs. I just didn’t want to become, I didn’t want to turn into that player that I despise, that player who didn’t work during the offseason and kind of let his teammates down.”
|07.15.11 at 2:01 pm ET|
There is reason to believe that the NFL lockout is nearing an end. On Friday, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweeted that “a global settlement is a possibility” before the weekend.
This comes on the heels of an earlier report on Friday from NFL Network reporter Albert Breer who wrote that “the economics of a deal are done.” CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman later reported he has heard similar hopeful indications that a deal is close to being finalized. Freeman also reported the players had secured roughly $200,000 per player in insurance had the lockout impacted the season, and as much as $300,000 if the entire season was wiped out.
Breer added that there are “plenty of other hoops” for both players and owners to jump through, including retiree benefits, “player safety, worker’s compensation and injury guarantees, and also litigation entanglements.”
Many close to the story indicated that Thursday was considered the “11th hour” for negotiations and that a deal needed to be in place by Friday or Saturday in order to be drafted in time for owners’ approval at their meetings in Atlanta on July 19. The two sides are then expected in front of U.S. Magistrate Arthur Boylan two days later in Minneapolis, where both sides could tell the judge that an agreement has been reached and is ready for ratification.
Meanwhile, once finished, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that a new CBA “will be 7 to 10 years.”
|07.15.11 at 9:02 am ET|
ProFootballTalk.com editor Mike Florio checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show with guest hosts Steve Buckley and Bob Halloran Friday morning to discuss the NFL labor negotiations. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
There have been widespread reports that the owners and players are closing in on a deal that will end the lockout in the coming days.
Said Florio: “I think it’s time to really just sit back and wait for that puff of white smoke to come out of that chimney, and it’s going to either today, tomorrow, Sunday, Monday ‘ some point before they go meet with Judge [Arthur] Boylan, the mediator, who was instrumental in getting this thing done.”
However, Florio cautioned that the owners might make one more push to get some additional concessions from the players before signing off on a deal.
“What happens is, once there’s a sense that it’s inevitable a deal’s going to get done, that’s when the owners start being a little more hard-headed, because they think the players are going to agree to anything,” he said. “So, we could see another bump today, where the owners decide [to be tough on] all the remaining stuff. And there still are some issues left ‘ not major issues, not issues as challenging as the ones they’ve already worked out ‘ but there’s still issues.
“So, maybe the owners decide to take a harder line and capture the reality that the players are ready to get this thing completely done. And the players may have to put their backs up a little bit and get the owners to stand down. So, that could still happen. I think that happened with the rookie wage scale. I think it was happening a couple of weeks ago when things almost fell apart on June 30 and then finally got back on track.
“I think the owners have a habit, when there’s a sense it’s going to get done, of drawing a line in the sand and hoping that the players blink. I think that could still happen on these remaining issues.”
|07.14.11 at 9:01 pm ET|
NFL owners and players are closing in on settling one of the lone remaining major obstacles in a new collective bargaining agreement, as the sides are nearing agreement on a rookie wage scale, the NFL Network reported Thursday night.
While there still are major issues to be resolved, settling the rookie wage scale issue was seen as a key hurdle to clear on the path to a new CBA. The owners have made concessions regarding the fifth-year compensation for rookies, sources told NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora, marking the breakthrough in negotiations that failed to materialize over the last week of meetings in Manhattan. Other sources said that players made concessions on rules preventing renegotiations by draftees until after their third year and undrafted players until after two years.
When NFL owners meet on July 21 in Atlanta, the hope is that they will have a completed proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement on which to vote. Sources additionally told La Canfora that negotiations are scheduled to go past midnight Thursday, and both sides expect to be back at the table Friday morning. It’s unclear at this point if the face-to-face talks will continue into the weekend.
One source estimated that if full closure on rookie wages is reached, there was “a 50-50 chance” the sides could have a handshake deal in place to present to U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan at their scheduled mediation Tuesday in Minneapolis. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.14.11 at 1:24 pm ET|
There were those on the inside and outside wondering openly last January if Randy Moss had caught his last pass in an NFL game. The loss of a full free agency period – many thought – would mean Moss would get lost in the process.
But according to his agent Joel Segal, who – in an interview with the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora – said Moss is ready to return to “the old Randy Moss” and is in “freakish shape,” working hard every day to be ready to contribute once the work stoppage is officially over.
Segal said Moss – now 34 – is looking forward to entering the NFL free-agent market whenever it opens, according to Segal, who said Wednesday the wide receiver is primed to return to “the old Randy Moss.”
“Randy has been working out, two-a-days, all spring and summer in West Virginia,” Segal told the NFL Network. “He is determined, motivated and quite frankly has a huge chip on his shoulder. Whatever team ends up getting Randy, they’re going to know they’re getting the old Randy Moss. He’s not just coming in to be on the team, he’s going to be Randy Moss — a difference maker.”
In the worst statistical season of his 13-year career, Moss caught 28 passes for 393 yards and just five touchdowns in 2010. Still, he leads the NFL in TD receptions from 2007 to 2010, with 52. (Larry Fitzgerald is second with 41), and just six players have more receptions of 25 yards-plus during that span. Moss, of course, was on the receiving end of an NFL-record 22 TD catches in the record-breaking 2007 season, when he helped Tom Brady set a new NFL standard with 50 TD passes in a season.
Brady spoke glowingly of Moss last Oct. 27, four days before the Patriots welcomed Moss back to Gillette with the Vikings, just three weeks after the deal that sent Moss out of Foxboro. Moss was traded by the Patriots last October to the Minnesota Vikings, who later released him, only to have the Tennessee Titans pick him up for a playoff run that fell just short.
Moss had just one catch for eight yards as the Vikings jumped out to leads of 7-0 and 10-7, only to lose, 28-18 on Halloween night at Gillette.
Moss has been down this road before. He fell quickly out of favor with the Oakland Raiders for two disappointing seasons, but he rebounded after being dealt to New England in 2007. Moss is a four-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection.
|07.13.11 at 5:32 pm ET|
The Patriots were very careful to keep the right perspective on Wednesday’s announcement that individual game tickets for all home games will go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. ET.
“As a reminder to last month’s announcement, individual game tickets to the Patriots’ home games this year will be made available for sale through Ticketmaster on Friday, July 15, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.,” Wednesday afternoon’s media advisory read. “The New England Patriots annually cap season ticket sales, leaving a limited number in reserve for Patriots fans who wish to attend just a game or two each season. Those tickets will be released for sale through Ticketmaster. Visa, a proud sponsor of the National Football League and the New England Patriots, will once again be the only form of payment accepted for Patriots tickets.”
The team went on to explain that all ticket orders will be processed through Ticketmaster and that tickets will NOT be sold at the Gillette Stadium Ticket Office. Ticket orders can be completed online at ticketmaster.com or by phone by calling 800-745-3000.
In recent years, all regular season tickets sold out within minutes. If that occurs again this year, 2011 will mark the 18th consecutive season that the Patriots have announced a complete sellout prior to the start of the regular season.
The Patriots’ streak of consecutive sellouts is currently 181 games, one contributing factor in the team’s rise to one of the most successful in all of sports. Forbes released its Top 50 most valuable franchises in world sports and the Patriots came in at No. 6. The streak began in 1994, the year that Robert Kraft purchased the franchise. The streak includes all preseason, regular season and postseason games since Sept. 4, 1994. Read the rest of this entry »