This it it, folks. The final day of NFL labor negotiations. And things aren't looking very good.
Last night's negotiations ended on a sour note after lead NFL negotiator Jeff Pash furtively questioned the players commitment to getting a deal done during a press conference, which angered NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith enough to call his own impromptu press conference outside in the rain just before everyone was ready to head home. Here is what Smith said:
"Obviously we saw Jeff Pash's comments a few moments ago and instead of driving home (I decided to address) the commitment of our players to this process....We had staff meetings with non-owners of the National Football League. Our players stood around and waited until 6 o'clock. The owners left and we were told to come back at 10 a.m. (tomorrow). We're committed to this process. We have been committed to this process. But for anyone to stand and turn to the American people and question that...
Look, I understand that there's probably some things Jeff Pash just has to say. But this is the truth. We know that as early as March of 2009 from the discovery in the television case that the National Football League engaged in a strategy to get $4 billion of television money to lockout our fans and lockout our players even if the games weren't played....(The court decision) talks about how they were going to go about securing television money and I quote, "for cash during a lockout." So with all due respect, when someone wants to stand up and say that he questions or doubts one parties commitment to the negotiation process, all I would ask is for all of you...to stick to the facts and take the document. We're going to be back here tomorrow because we want football to continue."
The two sides later took the fight online, with a back-and-forth on Twitter between NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah and NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello.
Atallah said this:
If owners continue to ? players' commitment to negotiations, we're prepared 2 make public all our unanswered proposals. (via @BobGlauber)
I would like to request an expense credit from the owners on the last 3 hours of my life.
Aiello replied with this:
That won't take long.
@BobGlauber While George is at it, ask him when is union going to respond to our 150 pages of draft CBA provisions that they received eight days ago. Waiting.
Yowza! Keep in mind that this was all after players and owners were unable to meet during the day. Both sides were a little testy.
The good news is that the gap in the great revenue split debate seems to be dwindling. Andrew Brandt of National Football Post reports that progress is being made:
On 9B revenue split, players still asking for 50/50: 4.5B. Owners offering roughly 43%: 3.9B. Gap of approx. 600M and shrinking.
The other good news is that yesterday's negotiation session was one of the most well-attended. Here's a list of who was in attendance:
In addition to Pash, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league outside counsel Bob Batterman, the league's group included nine of the 10 members of the NFL's labor committee: co-chairs Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, and Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos, as well as Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, New York Giants owner John Mara, Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II, San Diego Chargers president Dean Spanos and Green Bay Packers...Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner and Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen also were in attendance.
The NFLPA's contingent grew to include outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler and numerous members of the NFLPA's executive committee, including Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, Kansas City Chiefs guard Brian Waters, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday and Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth. The union's group also included retired players Cornelius Bennett, Pete Kendall, Sean Morey and Jim McFarland.
The 7-day extension expires at 5pm EST tonight. Absent an agreement, NFLPA decertification is probable. Another extension is not likely.