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Pete Kendall on D&C: Players and owners weren’t close enough on economic issues

03.14.11 at 10:05 am ET
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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.”Some critics have said the players wanted to get to this point all along so that they could decertify the union. Kendall said that simply isn’t true.

“It’s completely false,” he said. “They wanted to do a deal. They didn’t want to have to take their chances in court. They didn’t want to have to go through all the proceedings and all the maneuverings that are going to go on now. They wanted to play football. They just wanted to bring back to the other 1,800 players a deal that was fair, that was justifiable.”

A lot was made of the players’ request to view the league’s financial statements for the last 10 years and the owners’ subsequent refusal to do so. It was reported that the owners did provide that information for the last five years, just with names redacted. Kendall said that, too, is false.

“It’s not accurate,” he said. “What was offered was a profit number. We were told initially that the league did not want to do it on a club-by-club basis. But a profit number doesn’t tell the whole story. A profit number tells you what. The financial statements tell you why. So if there’s a decline in profit, let the players understand why. Clearly it’s not because of player costs.”

So if the league had provided the information that was being asked for, the players would have moved on and we’d have a new collective bargaining agreement right now?

“As long as the players could look at all the value that was being derived from all the NFL teams,” Kendall said, “I have a hard time believing that the players would say, ‘No.’ ”

Kendall said he doesn’t think the owners are surprised by the union decertifying. “I guess to hear them talk, the answer is no,” he said. “They’ve convinced themselves that the players wanted to go this route all along. It’s ironic because it was the owners who wanted to lock out the players all along.”

Did the owners make any concessions, such as on the proposal to extend the season to 18 games?

“It’s important to remember that in negotiations, nothing’s agreed to until everything’s agreed to,” Kendall said. “And everything clearly was not agreed to. That being said, 18 games would’ve never been played. The players were steadfast that they weren’t going to play 18 games. From a PR perspective, is that a concession? I suppose that it is.

“The non-economic stuff, there was certainly some common ground found. But at the end of the day, the players and the owners weren’t close enough on the economic issues.”

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