Yesterday, SB Nation football writers spoke to Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash on a wide range of issues, including the current labor crisis. We didn't want to present only one side of the story, so this morning we spoke with DeMaurice Smith, head of the defunct NFLPA, and Takeo Spikes. As you can imagine, the view from the player's side was very different from what the NFL owners think. Recently, Roger Goodell sent a letter to the players, and according to Takeo Spikes, it didn't do any thing to smooth over any differences.
On player's reaction to Goodell's letter:
TS: The players that I've spoken with, and the pulse from everybody here, is that's the worse deal probably of the lifetime that was offered to any union. We feel like as players that if that deal was so great, for us to sign it, why would we walk away? It just doesn't make any sense if you look at all the particulars of the deal.
The worse deal probably of a lifetime that was offered to any union? Come now, the history of the industrial revolution is littered with much worse deals than the players are seeing. The use of hyperbole like that tends to hurt the player's cause in the view of many fans. Just like Adrian Peterson's comments the other day. The NFLPA and the players should really get some control over their message to the fans. Here's DeMaurice Smith on the same question about Goodell's letter.
DS: Everyone likes to focus on what happened during the last 15 days. Let me tell you what happened during 15 days of mediation: we had decision-makers in the room virtually every day. We had men from the executive committee, former players that sit on the executive committee, team reps in the room for 15 straight days. For most of that time, the NFL never had a decision-maker in the room. On the last day of mediation, the NFL proposed a deal that is, quote, would be the worst deal in the history of sports. So if it helps you just to run through just the first two years of their deal, I'm happy to do that.
We'll actually have more of the long explanation that Smith went through on the negotiations in a later post.
Yesterday, we reported how Jeff Pash had agreed with the sentiments of Bengals owner Mike Brown in that the players only wanted to talk about money, and not any other parts of the NFL's proposed deal. Smith tries to knock that down with this response.
On Jeff Pash comments about players only wanting to talk about money:
DS: Jeff only has a casual relationship with the truth. Jeff knows that the NFL's deal was an all-or-nothing deal. They did not present an a la carte menu to the players of the NFL. They didn't sit down with us and say, 'Why don't you select the things you like, reject the things you don't, and let's move forward.' Jeff knows that their deal was inextricably tied to every point on the deal. Put it this way: if a deal that's being put to you is mutually contingent on all 16 parts, do you have the option of saying 'I like and we accept issues 8-16, but we don't like issues 1-7,' do you have a deal at that point? I'm very careful about language: do you have a deal if you don't like half the points that have been presented to you? You don't. It's not even probably, you don't. The first point of the NFL deal would have been us to accept their economic proposal at the same time we would have to accept everything else.
Okay, I have to tell you, after speaking with both sides in the past couple of days, I've become more pessimistic than ever. Right now, I'd have to say that unless the courts step in and order some kind of action, we can forget about any deal being reached until close to, or actually during, what should be the 2011 season.
Later today, I'll post the full transcript of our interview with Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash. I'll follow that up with a transcript of the conversation with DeMaurice Smith and Takeo Spikes.