By TomE. Curran
Welcome to the NFL Lockout, Day 1. Also known as...Saturday.1. THE OWNERS LOST MEWhen this issue was a speck on the horizon, I understood the owners' collective point. I believed they were right. The salary cap had risen from 84.5 million in 2006 before the CBA was extended to 130 million in 2009 under the new rules. With the cap shooting up like that, I understood the owners' interest in getting back to the table to tweak an agreement they hurried into back in 2006. I was OK with themopting out of the deal in the spring of 2008 - as both sides knew was very likely when the deal was signed -and I was more OK withthem backing outwhen the economy tanked in historic fashion in the fall of 2008. But they lost me in the last month. First, the truly rotten and unethical move to negotiate a TV deal that would pay them during the lockout and allow them to pocket 421 million they didn't have to share with the players if a lockout occurred. Then their evasiveness on exactly why they don't want to open their books. At the Super Bowl Robert Kraft offered up the dubious excuse that he didn't want to have his expenses shared because he didn't want someone telling him he's not paying enough to a marketing guy. Right. The half-assed participation by NFL owners in the negotiating process - deftly detailed by our Quick Slants buddy Mike Silver from Yahoo! - and their insistence on spin over substance has been stomach turning. As Drew Brees asked on Twitter Friday, "Would you trust them?" As a collective group? With their assortment of viper lawyers and mouthpieces and their talents for obfuscation? No.
2. CHECK THE NUMBERSI talked to Pete Kendall on Friday night and expect to talk to him a few more times as this lockout process goes on. The former Jet, Seahawk and Redskin (BC alum and Weymouth native, also)was there every step of the way during negotiations. Three weeks away from his family in Marshfield. That fact alone makes the NFL's claim that the NFLPA intended all along to decertify laughable.A guy like Kendall isn't going to be anyone's prop and he certainly wasn't in DC to make it seemlike he wanted to get it resolved when he knew the intention was decertification. Anyway, after the owners started flapping their arms Friday night about the deal the players walked away from, Kendall said, basically, read the fine print. The owners wanted to roll back the cap to 2007 levels. The Herald's Ian Rapoport posted this image of the NFL's proposal on Twitter. It was provided by NFLPA head De Smith. You'll see the 2011 cap was proposed to be 114 million. And while the paper says the cap in 2009 was 123 million, reports had it closer to 130 million. To get a gauge of how the owners operate, look at the benefits. In 2010, they dropped benefit payments to 15.6 million from 26.1 in 2009. And, with no cap, you can be sure their cap spending was way down as well. In other words, they saved a crapload in salary and benefits in 2010 relative to what they would have spent. And, as it stands now, they save more. 3. LEAVE JAPAN OUT OF ITI cringed every time I heard someone covering or involved with the labor staredown invoke the Japan earthquakeon Friday. Whether it was De Smith's obsequious mention of it as he entered Friday's negotiations or tsk-tsks about that tragedy putting the fight over billions into the proper perspective. Spare the maudlin tripe. It shouldn'ttake an 8.9 earthquake and a tsunami to remind everyone that this labor crapstrom pales in comparison to actual life. Professional football to the owners, the players and the people who cover it is merely a means to an end - and that end should be having the financial wherewithal to live a good and productive life. 4. GLOVES OFF WITH HEATH EVANSBoth the owners and players have been bristling for months about the "millionaires vs. billionaires" line. But efforts to paint themselves as not nearly as affluent as we perceive are a little tiring. On Friday, former Patriot and current Saint Heath Evans - a guy I get along with - went the "Most of us aren't millionaires" route. I disagreed. The gloves came off Twitter style for the next few hours. Then we patched things up. Which is good. If the Patriots re-sign him, I didn't want to have to tear a phone book in half or something and leave him a quivering puddle of terrified fullback in the corner of the locker room. 5. BRADY'S LATEST LEGACYForever more, the legal case the players are bringing against the NFL will be known as "Brady, et al vs. NFL, et al." Whether the future Hall of Fame quarterback ever strides into a courtroom and looks across as Patriots' owner Robert Kraft remains to be seen, but when this case is referred to - and depending how it goes, it may be referenced a lot - the Patriots' quarterback will be forever out front on it. 6. TICKET CRUNCHGot this email today. Hi Tom, I've got the Pats season ticket invoice in with the rest of my bills. Approximately 4700 due on 331. What are the chances of me paying that? ZERO! I'm not going to line Bob and Jonathan's pockets, so they can collect interest during labor strife.
Thanks,Kevin F.I think we're gonna be getting a lot of that. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
By TomE. Curran