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NFL Owners Would Make Nixon Proud

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NFL Owners Would Make Nixon Proud

In the Great Labor Showdown of 2011, I have been accused of being decidedly pro-Ownership. I am fine with this - mostly because it is flat-out untrue.

However, I understand peoples need to label things  and other people. It's just our nature and by putting things, like people's opinions, in little boxes and checking them off we feel comfortable when we need to deal with them later. "Oh, right, he was the guy who is totally on the side of the owners. No need to pay attention to his thoughts on this particular subject..." etc.

Now that we've painted me into a nice little box, allow me to obliterate it.

Our old friend Mike Florio dropped a small bomb on the labor landscape with a post in which he floated a rumor that the league is considering shutting down entirely if the 8th Circuit Court doesn't go its way.

From PFT:

We’re hearing initial rumblings pointing to the possibility that a loss by the league at the appellate level will prompt the owners to completely shut down all business operations until the players agree to a new labor deal.  The thinking is that, if the owners cease all operations, the NFL would not be violating the court order because there would be no lockout.  Instead, the league essentially would be going out of business — something for which the NFL repeatedly chided the union in the weeks and months preceding decertification of the NFLPA.

This was followed by this brief rejoinder in this morning's Monday Morning Quarterback from Peter King:

I reached out to a couple of ownership sources Sunday night; both said this was the first they'd heard of such a plan. We'll see if it grows legs as the month goes on. We're still weeks away from the June 3 St. Louis appeals court hearing that could end or extend the lockout.


My hunch is that Florio has indeed been told this, on purpose, by someone on the owners' side in order to continue the great Nixonian fear-mongering tradition that the owners have embraced in their public campaign against the players. This is a lovely follow up to Roger Goodell's Wall Street Journal editorial where the NFL's Commissioner tried convincing fans that not only were the players and their lawyers challenging the legality of the NFL Draft and free agency, but that Demaurice Smith himself was coming 28 Days Later style for their children. (Ok, I may have made that last one up...)

The players have said, via George Atallah,  that the specter raised in Goodell's letter is just that - a ghost. A bogeyman to scare fans silly that, if the players were to prevail in court, they would proceed to challenge the very foundations that built professional football into the juggernaut it is.

What's interesting is that Smith, when pressed to say unequivocally that the players were not planning on challenging the legality of the draft and free agency by Florio on PFT Live, punted. And why not? If the owners want to repeatedly raise this point, why would Smith take it completely off the table? He has effectively created a bargaining chip where none existed.

(For the league's reaction to these types of claims, read here.)

Which brings me to the owners' perception of Smith in general. I have been harsh on Smith myself at times, but I am not the one attempting to do business with him. One of the gentlemen attempting to, an unnamed NFL owner, took it upon himself to make the following characterization to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports last week:

Roger is trying to do business, and De is like a psycho girlfriend who doesn’t know what he wants, doesn’t understand what he’s involved in and [who] you can’t reason with. With psycho girlfriends, at least you can move on eventually. But Roger is stuck with him right now.

The league is indeed stuck with having to deal with Smith - so obviously its a great idea for an owner to talk junk to a national columnist. Up until that point I had been pleasantly surprised by the level of discourse coming from the league's side of the public table. Now - they have joined the likes of Chester Pitts and Derrick Mason in lobbing idiotic rhetoric that doesn't move things further along and makes the speaker and their side look petulant and foolish.

When Roger Goodell appeared on Packer Transplants, I asked him about the perception that while he made his name as Commissioner partly on his enactment of the Personal Conduct Policy (which I am a big fan of), his ability to get tough with the owners has been seemingly non-existent. To me, this is the whole problem. (Goodell was a very good sport, saying he disagreed with my assertion - then went on to completely ignore the point in his answer. He's really, really good at that.)

When talks broke down nearly two months ago and the Union decertified, the NFL went on a PR offensive, one they have remained on ever since, trying to paint the picture that the players walked away from an excellent working proposal. In fact, the players walked away from a group that was dead set on dragging negotiations out as far as possible.

This is nothing new. It's straight from the union busting playbooks from every labor dispute ever played out over the last 200 years. Following the breakdown in talks came Goodell's letter directly to the players, followed by the convenient "news" that a group of rogue "mid-level" players were approaching an outside law firm to get their voices "heard at the table." Then came the Goodell op-ed and now this ridiculous "we'll just shut-down" scenario.

The NFL's mantra has been "The quickest way to a resolution is through mediation, not litigation." While I believe this to absolutely be the case, the league's insistence  on peddling scare-mongering bullshit makes any possibility of an outcome from anything other than litigation close to impossible.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (49) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

kaktgfan1's picture


PackersRS's picture

Why can't both sides compromise?

Make a deal that will allow the Packers to profit and operate long term, and kick Jerry Jones, Jerry Richardson and Daniel Snyder out of the league.

Win-win situation!

FITZCORE1252's picture


Ebongreen's picture

Because it's always constructive and in your best interests to call your negotiating partner disparaging things to members of the national media.


Whassamatta wit dese peepul? It's like the owners never learned kindergarten manners about playing well with others.

DaveK's picture

Which tactic is worse: De-certifying your union or shutting a league down completely? One is done to impose a bunch of anti-trust laws onto a professional sports league which everyone knows makes no sense at all and will eventually have to be reversed. And, the other is done in order to keep intact a lock-out for the purpose of starving the players into submission. Each was done only for the purpose of making life so difficult on the other party they come back to the bargaining table and give in. Once it gets this far it's not about honest compromise. It's all about breaking the other guy. It should be about finding a 3rd way that is acceptable to everyone.

Chad Toporski's picture


PackersRS's picture

It doesn't matter which one is worse.
All that matters is which one will be illegal. If the league lose it's appeal, it'll be illegal to shut down.

Chad Toporski's picture

The sad part is that this whole charade is abusing the legal system.

I understand they all have their rights to due process, but when they're just using it as leverage? Come on. Our courts were made for more important things than that.

PackersRS's picture

What's more important than sharing U$8 BI?

Tarynfor 12's picture

Yes it is,but regrettably the Legal System is set up to be "abused" by those that can afford it and all too often disallow a"true and real"due process to the other.
This decision by the Court will/can/may be the onset of giving one side an eventuall "dictatorship" power,and that is a combustable,possible to eliminate all.

Cole's picture

I don't see how shutting down the league would win any fans over. I think it would just make the owners look more pathetic than they already are.

lars's picture

Another pro-player post from a lib, pro-union guy. Nixon? Really?

THE PLAYERS walked away from mediation and chose to run to the courts like union boys always do. Don't give an inch is the union motto. Give 'em a few more months of no paychecks/activity and they'll come crawling back.

packeraaron's picture

"Another pro-player post from a lib, pro-union guy."

Um, you may actually want to read some of my stuff before posting and sounding like an idiot.

Try starting here:

"And speaking of the players...

Where do I begin with this infantile bunch of petulant whiners?"


You're right - I'm a union shill.


Seekr's picture


You must not have ready ANYTHING Nagler wrote at the beginning of this post.

packeraaron's picture

I'm pretty sure he just read the headline...

Molri's picture

Good to read general anti-unionist comments on a website devoted to a football team from Wisconsin.

JohnRehor's picture

After kind of catching up on the will the NFL shut down business threat, I've come to this conclusion: remember the popularity of baseball pre-1994? No issue getting fans into the stadium. After the strike of '94-'95, it took the home run race of '98 to start to bring fans back, and they are still working on getting fans into the stadiums.

Would the NFL honestly shut down all operations, just to spite the players and force the hand of the NFLPA (or whatever it's called now a days) to make a deal, while risking losing fans for years, the same way that MLB did back in 1994? I find that very hard to believe. Neither side can be that stupid, can they?

Shut down, and you will lose fans, in particular if games are lost. Not sure how many, and I'm not one of them, but there will be people who simply say F this, and turn their back on football. I understand that fans are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but we are the ones who but the tickets, buy the merchandise, and all of the things fans do to support the NFL.

Both sides are going to get the same message from me: get your shit together, and figure this out. We are all tired of this.

Jmac34's picture

Richard Nixon: A great President or the greatest president?

ZeroTolerance's picture

I certainly have an opinion, but this is not the place for this.

PackersRS's picture

Crazy times, when the fear of an enemy living among the people allowed a president to do moronic acts and get away with it.

Jim's picture

ha, +1

Tarynfor 12's picture

That depends on how many people are drinking the same kool-aid as they did then.

ZeroTolerance's picture

Please football - come back. I can't take any more of this discourse.

Meaning no disrespect to those with opinions.

jaydubya's picture

Whew, when I read "make Nixon proud" I was afraid you were going to tell me the NFL was going to China.

packeraaron's picture


FITZCORE1252's picture

Owners win... NFLPA wins... don't care.

The Owners got to be Owners and Billionaires by being shrewd business men. I can't say I blame them one bit for wanting more... get every penny you can, even if you already have hundreds of billions of them. That's your right as an American, even if you come off looking like a gready dick.

The players want what they perceive is a fair deal as employees, more power to 'em.

I could not care less who wins this spat, so long as there is a "quality" product on the field 9/8/11. Just get something done by mid July, and I don't give 2 shits...


WoodyG's picture

" The players want what they perceive is a fair deal as employees, more power to ‘em. "

Some of these 'employees' believe that a 'fair deal' means no draft, unfettered free agency & no salary cap (max or min) ...... If the NFL goes the way of MLB, GB could become (eventually) the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL .....

This isn't just about season 2011 ....

FITZCORE1252's picture

"Some of these ‘employees’ believe that a ‘fair deal’ means no draft, unfettered free agency & no salary cap (max or min)"

Damn Woody, I didn't think I had to spell it out. Of course some players would love those scenarios, but it's just not realistic. We asked for an 8% C.O.L.A. during my last CBA negotiation... July 1st I get a 3% salary cut and ZERO C.O.L.A. never hurts to think big, but thinking something and actually seeing it come to fruition are worlds apart.

There will be a draft, the Owners will have a say in free agency and there will be a cap when a deal is finally inked. Or a deal won't get inked, which it will... sleep easy now guy.

WoodyG's picture

I agree, the extremes aren't realistic ...... But it's not at all impossible that some of the items (free agency, draft, cap) you mention will be altered as a result of consessions to secure a CBA ....

I'm not convinced that just having a cap, free-agency or a draft can guarantee a 'level playing field' for all 32 teams (esp. small-market teams) ..... For instance, there's a huge difference between a hard-cap & a soft-cap ... The NBA has a soft-cap with enough loop-holes & exceptions that a cap barely exists .....

Asshalo's picture

This is fantastic. I dont think they really know how much theyre hurting their popularity by pulling this shit. I really dare them to shut down completely. I will be absolutely done with the NFL if that happens. I have to deal with greedy posturing all day at work and I really dont need to hear about it from billionaires. How stupid do they think fans are?

Jmac34's picture

Seriously though I can't see the NFL shutting down because it would not make sense for them to lose billions of dollars because they didn't like a court decision

WoodyG's picture

No doubt the "scare-mongering bullshit" exists & clearly demonstrates the deterioration of the whole process.... However, my greatest fear is still that after all the posturing & BS, a CBA will exist without a hard salary cap (both max & min) .....

How long will it take for deep-pocketed owners to attempt to buy a championship? ..... The Yankees payroll in 2011 is around $225 mil while the Pirates sit at around $35 mil ..... The Yankees have a chance of being in the World Series, the Pirates have no chance ....

In MLB, the draft is one in which (many) teams only draft those players they have a shot at signing .... That's equivalent to an NFL team who needs a franchise QB passing on A. Luck in the draft because it's not in the budget ....

In MLB, low payroll teams develope players for high payroll teams ..... They can't retain all their own core players because it's not in the budget .... No salary cap means the Cowboys or Redskins could possibly & easily outbid the Pack for AR's next contract .....

I never thought that MLB would deteriorate to what it is today (back in the '80s) but it has happened & may never recover .... No salary cap (both max & min) in the NFL could change the game, perhaps forever .... It scare me.

packeraaron's picture

" greatest fear is still that after all the posturing & BS, a CBA will exist without a hard salary cap (both max & min)"


PackersRS's picture

Chemistry is the single most underrated aspect in football.

In baseball, you plug a better hitter from another team and it's an instant improvement.

It doesn't work that way in football. It's no coincidence that it's rare for a FA to make an impact in a team. Players are usually much more dependant of scheme than in any other sport. It's incredibly rare for a guy to be able to excel in any scheme. And not only that, the guy has to fit well in the locker room, as jelousy from being overpaid is a serious issue, etc...

FITZCORE1252's picture

Part of the beauty and especially the intrigue of the NFL is that the GBP can win a championship over teams from New York, Boston, Chicago etc... Every season there is hope that your cellar dwellars from last year could possibly turn it around. That uniqueness isn't lost on anyone in the CBA dispute. I just don't see it getting to a Yankees vs. Pirates level... There will be a high and low #. And no, I have no way to know that, but I have a hundo says that's the case. Takers?

WoodyG's picture

I hope you're correct .... But consider this ..... MLB has had several opportunities (over the last 20-30 years) to make changes for the betterment of the game ..... Owners & players chose to disregard the game & focus on their individual needs instead ..... Thus, you have the Yankees vs. Pirates dilemma ....

I'm not convinced that the 31 owners & the nearly 2000 NFL players are thinking what's best for the game or what's best for the GB Packers .... In fact, I'm concerned that GB is just along for the ride & has little impact on whatever the final outcome may be ....

pat's picture

just wondering if the owners shut down, would they be breaking any agreements for re-paying the publicly funded stadiums, and leave themselves open to more lawsuits?

packeraaron's picture

That is a great question. Not sure, but I'll ask around.

Ruppert's picture

Another excellent post, Aaron. As I have said before, both sides in the mess are shameful. I'm beginning to hope that the league's popularity takes a nosedive when (if?) this mess gets settled just to teach these idiots a lesson for the future.

Mel's picture

Can't figure out what to do with 9Billion?? I know I know!!! Give it to Cheesehead tv and all of its readers!!!!:)

MarkinMadison's picture

These are tough times for CheeseheadTV. I used to follow a Chevy Volt web-site. It quickly went from techy-geek to political free-for-all when GM went into bankruptcy. Eventually, things went back to normal. Until then, I hope that we can all restrain ourselves from labeling each other and making offensive comments.

packeraaron's picture

I haven't seen an offensive comment in this thread. I've seen some strong opinions, but nothing offensive.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't disagree. There's some good stuff here. Just a cautionary note. And I really like reading opinions that I differ with, as long as they are based in fact. Some of the stuff when we were talking about the Wisconsin budget battle a few months ago... As Reagan once said (roughly), "we're all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts."

Mojo's picture

Regardless of what side(if any) an NFL fan falls on in this labor dispute, he or she is better served if the Owners "win". If the Players continue to see a substantial rise in salaries and benefits even teams that are successful, such as the Packers, could be in trouble. Note, that despite their recent success, the Packers have incurred decreasing net income year-to- year at a rapid pace mainly due to high player costs.

Several NFL franchises are already struggling. I believe even with either static or slight decreases in salary (as a percentage of the whole), players will still want to play in the NFL. From a fans perspective, if you like the NFL the way it is now, you would be better off if the Owners prevailed and the status quo was preserved for years to come.

PackersRS's picture

The key word in this is "could".
I agree, we're Packers fans first, so we should hope for what's best for the Packers.

But it's not necessarily in the Packers' best interest that the owners have their say, just because they're sided with the owners. If Jerral has his way, there could be a dramatic change in the way the shared revenue are distributed, for the worse.

I think what every Packers fans should be hoping for is that the new CBA allows the Packers to remain viable as a small market team, and competitive.

Mojo's picture

PackerRS, I agree, shared revenue is a critical part of the equation going forward and it would be disastrous to the Pack to lose that feature in their arrangement with the other franchises. I still believe the NFL, from a fans perspective, is better off if the owners get the majority of what they want with the players, but leave the agreements on revenue sharing and drafting as is.

I don't know if the courts ruling about the NFL's anti-trust exemption could cause the end to the draft and revenue sharing, but once again, if the owners lose, and those things change, IMO the fans lose too.

If believe impartial NFL fans would be better off, and the likelihood of lost games less, if the Owners get the majority of what they want. Especially for the long-term.

MarkinMadison's picture

I would't mind seeing the owners win on the majority of the $1B at stake if they were using it for things like stadium improvements. You look at MN right now. The state government is being asked to cough up money that they do not have. It's a little crazy when you step back and think about all of the money that these teams generate.

Tarynfor 12's picture

I might be wrong or have bad information but,the shared revenue in the Packers case is a detriment to them more so than if was altered.The amount of money the Packers contribute into the fund is much more than the share they get back.
The Packers are I believe, 8th in money that is generated and based on for contribution to the system.
So, the player cost rising does hurt the Packers net each year but it's not due to not accumulating money as a franchise but to being a very variable small market franchise with a high donation factor.

packeraaron's picture

Supplemental revenue sharing, which the Packers were indeed paying into, ended last offseason.

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