League's Reaction To Union Decertification

Comments from NFL executive vice-president/labor Jeff Pash after the NFL Players Association filed for decertification Friday:

``We gave them today a comprehensive, new, revised proposal that incorporated and moved further in all of the areas that we discussed over the week and where progress had been made. It incorporated new economic terms to try and bridge the gap.

``You’ve heard a lot of talk about an $800 million gap. Nowhere close. Not close to that. We offered today to split the difference and meet the union in the mid-point. With a player compensation number that would have been equivalent to player compensation in 2009 and above player compensation in 2010. And we offered to grow it from there over four years by $20 million per club to the point that by 2014, the player compensation number was the union’s number. It was the number the union proposed to us and we accepted it. That wasn’t good enough.

``We promised to guarantee for the first time in the history of the league more than one year of injury on player contracts. Apparently not good enough. We moved off our wage scale and offered to do a rookie compensation system within the context of a hard rookie cap as the union had proposed that would’ve preserved individual negotiations and maintained the role of agents in the process. Evidently not good enough.

``We told the union that for 2011 and 2012, we would play within the existing 16-game regular-season format and we committed to them, notwithstanding the right we have in the current agreement, we would not change to 18 games without their consent. Evidently not good enough. At the same time, we agreed to implement wide-ranging health and safety changes, reducing the offseason program by five weeks, reducing the practice time in the preseason, reducing the practice time and contact drills in the regular season and expanding the number of days off for players. Evidently not good enough.

``We offered to increase the benefits in a wide range for both current and retired players. Under the proposal we had tendered, retired players who left the league before 1993 would experience an increase in their retirement benefits by close to 60 percent. Close to 60 percent. And the union, which says it represents former players, stepped away from that.

``We’re discouraged. We’re frustrated. We’re disappointed. But we’re not giving up. We know that this will be resolved in the negotiation process. We will be prepared to come back here anytime the union is ready to come back here. And we look forward to getting back to the bargaining table with the assistance of the director (federal mediator George Cohen) and getting the kind of agreement that we need to get this game going forward.’’

(on lockout possibility) ``A decision has not been made.’’

(on whether he feels union bargained in bad faith) ``That’s for someone else to decide. I can say to the fans that the absence of an agreement is a shared failure. I think they should be disappointed. I think they should be unhappy. And I understand that. And I will only say that we will not waver for one moment, for one day, in trying to get an agreement that works for fans, that works for players, that works for clubs. That’s what we want. It doesn’t do any good to shut down our business. That was never our goal. It’s not our purpose today. No one’s happy with where we are right now.’’

(on the union’s decision to decertify) ``I have my views on whether the decertification is valid or meaningful. Someone else will make that judgment. It’s not for me to decide. But we’ve obviously brought a proceeding at the National Labor Relations Board to address that issue. There will come a point, no matter how the litigation that the union has filed, whatever course it takes, when we’ll have to get back together and resolve these issues. Because the only way we can have an orderly process for having this game operate is through consensual negotiations, through agreements.’’

(when will you make a decision on lockout?) ``We’ll talk to the CEC (Management Council Executive Committee) again and get a sense of what they think is the appropriate course and make an announcement at the appropriate time.’’

(on the union’s request for 10 years of team-by-team financial information) There’s no point in releasing them to people who apparently don’t want to negotiate with you. But we did offer to release 5 years of club by club financial documents to a mutally acceptable third party to review and analyze and report on those documents. We also offered to give the union aggregate profit data from the 32 clubs as a whole so they could see how the profitability has changed over the years. So we’ve offered substantial financial disclosures, and the union chose not to take it.’’