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Part 2 of 5: How does WNST measure up to other Baltimore media?

Posted on 28 January 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

This blog was originally published two years ago. We’ll be revisiting this with a three-part series and updating these thoughts with a new WNST “State of Baltimore Sports Media” survey next week while we broadcast live from Indianapolis all week. This is Part 2 of 5: The State of Baltimore Sports Media (circa 2010).

A friend of mine in San Franciscio has an awesome bar called Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant on Geary Street in the Richmond District. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. Full of chips, salsa, guacamole and stiff margaritas, the night before the AFC Championship Game in 2001 we hung out there with more Ravens fans than the place can hold. I was there three weeks ago and have shot several video segments for wnsTV from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant over the years.

Over the Bay Area’s largest tequila bar, my pal Julio Bermejo (the U.S. Ambassador & world expert on 100% agave tequila) has a bunch of fun signs with slogans and axioms.

Here’s my favorite:

“Tommy’s encourages you to visit our competitors!”

I just love that. Because it’s exactly how we feel at WNST.net. Go ahead and scan the dial, surf the web, Facebook and Twitter away with our competitors – you’ll come back to us.

It’s our solemn goal and daily mission to make it mandatory that you come back to WNST.net every day for your Baltimore sports news, information and conversation because we think our content and observations are the best in the market.

The sign at Tommy’s is a symbol of excellence and the ultimate statement of self-confidence in one’s own product/expertise/value. It ain’t bragging if you can back it up, right?

It says we’re so good, you’ll remember us — and you’ll be back because we have the best information, the most accurate information and the most informed opinion, analysis and insights in the marketplace.

Oh, and unlike the others who are being paid “hush money” to cough and look the other way by the teams that they’re ostensibly asked to assess, evaluate and analyze with “integrity,” you always know you’re always going to get the truth from us.

For the first time in the history of WNST as a company dating back to 1998, we’re finally getting a fair shake on the measurement of our product on the web to know just how many people really are “coming back” each day.

I’ve been doing sports radio for 18 years. I have never read an Arbitron report that says we have more than 500 listeners. Most times, it lists us as the 52nd radio station in the market and sometimes we’ve fallen to ZERO listeners in their antiquated and useless monthly surveys. One local advertising agent has spent the past two decades calling us a “little station with a ‘cult’ following.” (After 18 years, nothing could be more insulting or further from the truth.)

And if you check the latest Arbitron numbers – we lovingly call them the “arbitraries” – you’ll see that once again NONE of you seem to listen to WNST.

Yep, we’re back at “zero point zero” – kind of like Bluto in “Animal House.”

But to the amazement of everyone in the Baltimore media world, suddenly, we’re so far ahead of the pack in every WEB measurement that it defies all of the “millions of dollars of research” that Arbitron has invested in proving that places like WNST-AM 1570 and brands like WNST.net aren’t effective.

But somehow, we have well over 40,000 people in our sphere here in Baltimore (at least that’s how many we’ve been able to account for so far) and displaced local sports fans across the country who’ve been kind and trusting enough to give us their email, mobile number, Facebook or Twitter access. We’ve got over 10,000 on our registration to the website and more 12,000 in our Facebook sphere alone! And there are certainly thousands of other folks who just “lurk” in our sphere, reading but never commenting, registering or playing any of our games for cash and prizes. Just like the thousands of you who have been listening to WNST-AM 1570 for years and have never received a dairy to fill out.

Every day thousands of you are coming regularly to WNST.net – via our website, Twitter, Facebook or a myriad of other connections — for any of the variety of media and information we offer.

Against the marketplace over the past dozen years, WNST has been cheated out of millions of dollars of market revenue but the game is “fixed” — at least as far as radio is concerned. Arbitron’s reporting is so fundamentally flawed and skewed that it’d be laughable if it didn’t cause me to fire people and lose money on a measurement system that is so antiquated I find it hard to believe that anyone could take it seriously.

For the first 17 years of my radio existence and as recently as last spring, Arbitron was sending out a paper diary in an envelope with a stamp via snail mail and the USPS to various (and random) home mailboxes with a $1 bill (and later $2) inside asking you

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Ehrmann: NFL Players Should Honor Mackey With “88” Patch This Season

Posted on 11 August 2011 by WNST Staff

From the official Baltimore Colts alumni release…

I will be officiating the Memorial Service of NFL Hall of Fame player John Mackey this Saturday, along with his brother, Rev. Elijah Mackey. Having been in pastoral ministry over twenty-five years, I have learned that when someone has led a relationally successful and meaningful life, it is an easy and celebratory service to lead and participate in. None should be easier than John Mackey’s – but it is not.

As a player, John is arguably the greatest to ever play his position. As a man, he is one of the most respected teammates, opponents, and men to ever play the game. He was the first President of the NFL Players Association and organized the NFL’s first player strike that led to increased player health and pension benefits. He helped lead and win a court challenge to end the “Rozelle Rule” which set the precedent for true free agency and the salaries enjoyed by current players. And for all he accomplished, his greatest legacy will be as a husband, father, family member and friend – and as a role model of authentic masculinity.

Yet, John Mackey will also be remembered as the most visible face of sports’ growing epidemic of traumatic brain injuries. In 2000 John was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia that eventually led to his spending the last five years of his life in a full -time assisted living facility, unable to communicate, to recognize loved ones or to care for himself. With a push from John’s heroic wife Sylvia, his Baltimore Colt teammates and their advocacy group Fourth & Goal, the NFL and the NFLPA started the “88 Plan” named after John’s jersey number. The 88 Plan provides $88,000-a-year for nursing home care and $50,000 annually for adult day care for players suffering from various forms of degenerative brain damage.

I find it providential that after more than a decade of suffering, John Mackey’s life would end during the NFL’s longest work stoppage as the players and owners reworked their Collective Bargaining Agreement with new guidelines for health, safety and post-career benefits. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, upon learning of John’s passing said, “He worked closely [with] our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the first president of the NFL Youth Football Fund. He never stopped fighting the good fight.” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, expressed similar sincere and heartfelt thoughts, “John Mackey has inspired me and will continue to inspire our players and define our institution. He will be missed but never forgotten.” I hope so.

John Mackey’s last sacrificial gift to the NFL and its players is the opportunity to lead the world of sports in educating athletes, parents and coaches of all ages and all sports on how to prevent, diagnose and treat concussions. While football is the most visible of concussive related sports, every game must address and work through the avalanche of evidence pointing to long term mental health issues related to head traumas. Yet, when Commissioner Goodell began changing the rules on hits to the head and imposing fines and suspensions, it was the players who pushed back. All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher represented the opinion of many players and fans when he said the NFL should rename itself “the NFFL – The National Flag Football League.” Kevin Mawae, the President of the NFLPA who represented current players at the recent negotiations, ridiculed Goodell’s crackdown stating, “The skirts need to be taken off in the NFL offices.” They represent the decades of players coached to make and celebrate the head-rattling hits that too many fans cheer and applaud.

While I do not know what conversations took place at the negotiating table upon hearing of John Mackey’s death, I’d like to think participants took a long pause and reflected on the life, legacy and tragedy of John’s death. I hope current players rethought the rule changes needed to protect players and the responsibility to model how the game can and should be played. John Mackey will be celebrated at the Memorial, I am sure. But more than words of gratitude and plaudits should be spoken to carry on the legacy of a man who “never stopped fighting the good fight.” To truly honor our fallen teammate and leader, I hope the NFL players will demand — and the league and union will agree to — at least one game this season where every player wears a “88” patch on their jersey and each team airs appropriate public service announcements aimed at educating coaches, parents and young athletes on the prevention of head traumas. Then John Mackey’s life will continue to inspire NFL players, address the moral responsibility of the NFL and NFLPA to current, past and future players and honor the game. That would make for a truly celebrative Memorial Service for a man who will be missed — but should never be forgotten.

Joe Ehrmann
Baltimore Colts 1973 -1980
Author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives

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Bumpy road ahead to new NFL CBA agreement

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Chris Pika

ATLANTA—As word leaked out that the NFL owners had voted 31-0 on their proposal for a settlement of legal issues and the terms of a new CBA last night, rumors that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith had been on the phone during a prolonged (and unplanned) dinner break by the owners seemed to suggest that there was an agreement in principle in place.

As we found out not more than 15 minutes after the NFL’s press conference at the Atlanta Gateway Marriott announcing their vote and going over the particulars of the league’s proposal, the howls of protest via social media by players and leaking of two NFLPA emails from Smith and NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen seemed to suggest that the players were blindsided by the owners.

It should have been clear (but wasn’t at the time) that the men lined up behind Goodell during the press conference — NFL Executive VP of Labor/League Counsel Jeff Pash, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, New York Giants owner John Mara, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II and Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt — never once smiled, even wearily, as the months of negotiations were at an end.

They knew what we were finding out. The road to ratification is filled with bumps that could still derail the process. It’s easy (in some respects) to get 32 people to agree to a proposal (the supplemental revenue sharing deal brokered during the day between the owners was a bigger story that got lost in the later events). It’s harder to get 1,900 people to share one vision, especially when there are competing personal interests inside the group.

Continue Reading

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For NFL players … this is not time for a two-minute drill

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Rex Snider

You can count me among the millions and millions of pigskin lovin’ Americans who simply want this NFL labor deal to be firmly in the rear view mirror.  I want football, period.

But, I also recognize the very sensitive nature of ongoing negotiations, especially as members of the NFLPA are at a juncture where ratification and commitment – a 10 year commitment – are mandated.

I’m not suggesting players should drag their feet, toss a lil’ more mud or procrastinate over the small, incidental stuff …..

But, I do think it’s prudent for the entire viewing audience to grant a little understanding of the players’ need to be methodical in their review of ownership’s offer.  From legal jargon to perceived contradictory clauses, the proposed labor deal is probably overwhelming for even the smartest of union members.

Did you understand … and more importantly, did you read the fine print of your most recent vehicle financing agreement?

If you’re a homeowner, did you take the time to comb through every last word of your mortgage, as the lender sat across the table and fed several dozen pages your way?

Many of us just streamline such processes, right?

Well, if you agreed and signed those deals, you’re compelled to abide by the very words of those contracts – even if you didn’t fully comprehend or review a given portion.

This is exactly where NFL players find themselves today.

While a given number of fans are also assuming “a few players are holding this up”, there really is no concrete evidence such a situation exists.  When you’re dealing with a serious, lengthy commitment, a responsibility to be fully engaged and knowledgeable of your future is warranted.

All of us are on the outside periphery of this labor drama, right?

Heck, many of us don’t really care about it …..

We just want football.

That said, if there is EVER a time to sympathize with players, this is it.  They’re being tasked with agreeing to working conditions for the next decade – and it’s a deal they won’t be able to escape, because there is no opt-out clause.

A 10-year deal with no danger of either side opting out is certainly good for fans.  We won’t face the possibility of this stuff for a long time.  And, that’s a great feeling ….

But, just as owners are committed to protecting their investments and the future financial health of the league, players are obligated to ensure they’re making a deal that guarantees their future security, as well as the THOUSANDS of men who will follow in their footsteps.

How many players will still be in the game when this new deal expires?  If you want to consider the Ravens for such a prediction, only SIX PLAYERS were members of the National Football League a decade ago.

I’m not siding with players, nor am I found in ownership’s corner.  I just think it’s responsible and quite sensible to ensure that every last part of this deal is understood and in the best interest of unity.

This is not a time to hurry the process.  However, it is a time to stay focused and devoted to finishing a new deal.  And, we have every reason to believe this is happening.

Don’t overreact …..

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Former Teammates, Others Remember Greatness of John Mackey

Posted on 07 July 2011 by WNST Staff

A number of former teammates and NFL personalities have chimed in with reactions to the passing of former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey, via AM1570 WNST or press releases. Here are a few of the reactions:

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti:
“We are tremendously saddened to hear about the passing of John Mackey, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Sylvia and the entire Mackey family. I was fortunate to get to know John and Sylvia personally, and I was struck by her love and loyalty throughout the difficult times of his illness. John set the standard by which tight ends are measured on the field, and he will be sorely missed not only by his family, but also by the entire Baltimore community.”

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome:
“I am mourning the loss of John Mackey, and my deepest condolences go out to his wife Sylvia and the Mackey family. John revolutionized the tight end position during his Hall of Fame career, and he laid the foundation on and off the field for modern NFL players.”

DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA):
“John Mackey is still our leader. As the President of the NFL Players Association, he led the fight for fairness with a brilliance and ferocious drive. His passion continues to define our organization and inspire our players. His unwavering loyalty to our mission and his exemplary courage will never be forgotten.”

Indianapolis Colts Owner/CEO Jim Irsay:
“I am deeply sorry to learn of the passing of John Mackey. John was as identified at his position as any player who has played in the National Football League.  John combined size, speed and power in being only the second tight end ever voted into the Hall of Fame and earning a spot on the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team.
His statistical numbers have been eclipsed as the game has evolved, but those in football recognize to this day how John impacted the game.  He authored big moments with his on-field ability, such as his memorable 75-yard scoring reception in Super Bowl V. John’s passion for the game extended beyond his playing years, and he is one of the most notable figures in league history. We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to John’s wife, Sylvia, and the entire Mackey family.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“John Mackey was one of the great leaders in NFL history, on and off the field.  He was a Hall of Fame player who redefined the tight end position.  He was a courageous advocate for his fellow NFL players as head of the NFL Players Association.  He worked closely with our office on many issues through the years, including serving as the first president of the NFL Youth Football Fund.  He never stopped fighting the good fight.  Our thoughts are with Sylvia and the Mackey family on the loss of our good friend.”

Former Colts WR Raymond Berry:
“He was a combination of a lot things, very intelligent, great personality and one of the most well liked players on the team. He was very unselfish, and had a great sense of humor, so he was a delight to be around.  He was the whole package. I’m thinking his playing days far outshadow, anything he did after his playing days. He was such a performer for so many years for the Colts, to me that’s his legacy.”

Former Colts RB Tom Matte:
“It’s a sad day for Baltimore, but I think overall the quality of life that John had in the end was tough. I don’t think there is any question about it that he should have been in the Hall of Fame a lot earlier than he got in. But John, in my estimation was the first big, fast tight end that could catch the ball, block, and make the big plays.  John Mackey was at the forefront of the leadership. There is a lot of respect out there for John Mackey, and what he did as a player, and what he did off the field in negotiations. He’s a great guy, he will be missed, but he is in a better place than he was.”

Former Colts LB Ted Hendricks:
“I was a rookie coming into the league and there was none any better then him at tight end.  To practice against him I’ve learned a lot of things from him.  To me it made the games easier because there was nobody that I played that had more talent than he did. He was definitely a consummate tight end.  Everything, each attribute that he had.  His blocking ability, his pass catching, and not only that but running with the ball after he caught it.  And you couldn’t ask for anything better in a tight end than that.”

Former Colts DE Ordell Braase:
“The thing (I most remember) was the first time I saw John Mackey, how impressed I was with him. Do you realize that he did not get into the Hall of Fame until the last vote? He should have been just an out and out slam dunk on being into the Hall of Fame.”

Former Colts QB Earl Morrall:
“It’s a very somber day, John Mackey was one of my favorites, he is one that really produced for you, and one of the best during his time playing.  John was a great blocker, good solid, opened up the running game for us. He’d release and then go up the field and catch the ball. Defenses would shiver when he got the ball because he would go through them. He could play any day.  He gave you every bit he could on the field.”

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley:
“Today, we reflect on the life of John Mackey, a great Baltimore Colt and one of football’s legendary players.  His remarkable talents on the football field revolutionized the tight end position and earned him a place in history in the Hall of Fame, while his loyalty, determination and integrity off the field have earned him a place in our hearts.  We are saddened by his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.”

Baltimore Ravens RB Willis McGahee:
“He’s a great guy. Meant a lot not just to our time, but with our time. He set the pace. It’s our job to continue his legacy.”

Detroit Lions Hall of Fame TE Charlie Sanders:
“His loss is a tremendous loss, not only for the NFL and what he stood for, but it’s also a reminder of what this game is all about. I didn’t have a hero or idolize anybody growing up, so he was the one player that I idolized and tried to copy more than anyone else throughout my career. I took pride in trying to get to the top where he was. He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Former Colts C Bill Curry

“I loved John like a brother and he was a great mentor to me, in addition to being a great player.  When you are with great human beings you usually make the mistake of not appreciating them until you don’t have them anymore.  And I am going through a lot of that right now.  What I remember is his rookie year.  Watching number 88 returning kickoffs and when he came exploding out of the end zone it was terrifying.  I said I have never seen anything like that in my life.”

Former Ravens TE Dan Wilcox

“Rest in piece to John Mackey out there.  I definitely send my condolences to his family as well.  Coming to a town like Baltimore and playing in a city like that, you would love to get a piece of what John Mackey had while he played in the NFL. To be around someone like a John Mackey and all the other Colts that are around Baltimore was an amazing experience. John Mackey was definitely one of the best, one of the all time greatest.  And you hate to lose a guy like that.”

Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick

“I was so fortunate that when I first came to Baltimore to have a chance to meet so many of the great former Colts and John was one of them.  …That smile of his, that energy, that orb that he had, his love for the game, his love for the Colts.  To watch Shannon and Ozzie communicate and talk with John and the reverence they had for him and what he represented, it’s a loss for all of us.”

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Colts Hall of Fame TE John Mackey Passes Away at 69

Posted on 07 July 2011 by WNST Staff

NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith confirmed Thursday morning via Twitter that former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey had passed away overnight. Mackey was 69.

Mackey was selected in the 2nd round of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Colts out of Syracuse. He remained in Charm City until 1972, when he finished his career playing one season with the San Diego Chargers.

During his time in Baltimore, Mackey was a five time Pro Bowl selection (1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968) and three time All-Pro (1966, 1967, 1968).

He was a member of the Colts team that defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V. In the game, he was involved in one of the more memorable plays in Super Bowl history, catching a twice deflected Johnny Unitas pass and scampering 75 yards for the Colts’ only TD of the game.

The Queens, NY native finished his career with 331 catches for 5,236 yards and 38 TD’s. He added 17 postseason catches for 296 yards and 2 TD’s. His career was sadly cut short due to leg and knee injuries.

Mackey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992, becoming just the 2nd pure tight end to be elected (Mike Ditka). In 2010, the NFL Network listed Mackey 42nd on their list of the Top 100 players in league history, the highest ranking of a Tight End on the list.

In the later years of his life, Mackey endured a very public battle with dementia. In a 2007 interview with the Baltimore Sun, wife Sylvia Mackey (who was taking care of Mackey in the later years of his life) said Mackey asked her “Who’s that wearing my number?” when watching Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts on television. (Harrison wore #88 in Indy, the same number Mackey wore in Baltimore.)

In response to his health battles, the league and NFLPA  created the “88 Plan”, providing retired players with up to $88,000 per year for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Mackey served as NFLPA President from 1969-1973, he was succeeded by former Colts teammate Bill Curry.

As more details are available regarding Mackey’s passing, we will make them available via AM1570 WNST and WNST.net. Also stay tuned to AM1570 Thursday, as we will chat with folks who knew Mackey well.

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Trial balloon floated by NFL owners

Posted on 21 June 2011 by Chris Pika

For several weeks, there have been precious little details on what the NFL owners and players have shared between themselves on a framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Even during the “secret” talks between the sides over the last three weeks with U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan as mediator, nothing was revealed.

That changed today as ESPN.com’s Chris Mortenson reported on what the NFL owners are proposing as their potential two-day meeting heads to a one-day conclusion in Chicago before talks between the owners and players resume later this week.

The quick outline, based on Mortenson’s report:

  • Players receive 48 percent of all revenue
  • Owners will not take $1 billion cost credit off the top as in past CBA
  • Owners will get some credits for stadium construction
  • Rookie wage scale will be included, but adjustments are still being made
  • Teams must spend between 90-93 percent of salary cap
  • The proposed 18-game regular-season schedule is negotiable, not mandated
  • New 16-game Thursday night TV package in 2012 to be revenue driver
  • Retired players to get increased health and pension funding

Also, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, when an agreement is reached, those unsigned players who have been in free-agent limbo with four, five and six years of service will be unrestricted free agents, and the franchise tag will still be in existence.

A good deal tends to be where both sides give a little and leave not getting everything. If this is the eventual framework, the players take a lesser percentage of all revenues (below 50 percent), owners can’t take as much off the top as they wanted and teams have to spend more of the cap.

This is the key trial balloon, as whoever leaked the info to Mortenson had to have done so with some blessing of league higher-ups. Now we wait for the players’ reaction and the negotiations to restart soon.

There is a long way to go — and a lot can still go wrong — but this is the first real hope of a resumption of NFL football since the owners locked out the players in mid-March after talks broke down.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Where NFL-NFLPA labor fight stands after Judge Nelson’s decision (as of Tuesday morning)

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Chris Pika

In the game of chicken the NFL and the NFLPA have played since the CBA expired in early March and the owners declared a lockout, the participants, fans and the media have all learned to assume nothing.

Most, myself included, expected Judge Susan Nelson of the U.S. District Court to rule in favor of the players in their preliminary injunction attempt to lift the lockout as part of the Brady v. NFL case. What was also expected was a stay from Judge Nelson to hold the lockout in place until an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit could be filed by the NFL.

So, Judge Nelson’s ruling to lift the lockout immediately, but to not issue a stay of her order until the NFL’s appeal could be heard has thrown the league into chaos on several points, some of which are not entirely clear to legal analysts specializing in sports law in the first hours following the issue of the order.

First, here is Judge Nelson’s full 89-page order issued Monday, April 25.

The NFLPA issued a statement Monday night:

Re: Brady, et al. v. NFL

We are class counsel along with Dewey LeBoeuf on behalf of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady lawsuit as well as the 1800 members of the soon to be Brady class. We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson. We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.

De Smith, co-class counsel and Executive Director of the NFLPA said; “I’m happy for our players and for our fans. Today, those who love football are the winners.”

In addition, plaintiff Osi Umenyiora stated: “Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011. The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.”

– James W. Quinn, Class Counsel

The NFL also issued a statement following the order:

We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.

The league, according to SI.com’s Peter King has filed two motions with Nelson’s court: a motion of clarification, seeking more info on the practical implications of the ruling, and a motion to stay the ruling while the Eighth Circuit hears the NFL’s appeal.

There are three possible outcomes, according to King. One, a stay which would keep the lockout in place until the Circuit Court hears and rules; two, no stay and an order to begin the 2011 NFL league year at her discretion; and three, passing the decision of a stay to the Eighth Circuit, which could take about a week to decide.

Judge Nelson’s order has set the following in motion:

The NFLPA via an email, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, advised players of their legal right to report to work at club facilities on Tuesday, April 26. It is unclear how many team player reps are telling players to report. Some like the Lions’ Kyle Vanden Bosch, have told players not to report for a day until the dust settles, while the Steelers’ rep Ryan Clark is telling teammates to report to work, according to ProFootballTalk.com.

Late Monday, according to Schefter, the NFL Management Council has told teams to let players into buildings on Tuesday, but also recommended keeping weight rooms closed and to have security in place to avoid any potential confrontations or photo opportunities for the media.

That advisement from the Management Council will avoid an awkward situation where team security directors, which assist players during normal labor times, would have been the ones turning the players away at the facilities or changing access codes the players use in some cities to access parking and the facilities.

ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that coaches have been told not to be in contact with players until the league has had a chance to seek a stay of Judge Nelson’s order.

Even if the league year is ordered to begin, there is plenty of uncertainty of if the previous CBA would apply going forward. Teams will also have some minefields in antitrust law to navigate, according to sports law professor Michael McCann in SI.com.

In the same article, McCann says the NFL’s appeal will hinge on two points: lack of jurisdiction by Judge Nelson because the National Labor Relations Board is yet to rule on the legality of the NFLPA’s decertification order and lack of irreparable harm to the players.

The league’s lawyers, led by David Boies, made those arguments in front of Judge Nelson in preparation for their appeal to the Eighth Circuit.

According to ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, the owners may try to impose new work rules, or try to negotiate a new deal with the players, or try to do both.

Andrew Brandt of NationalFootballPost.com says that there is plenty that could still happen in the wake of Judge Nelson’s decision.

The league also faces a mid-May hearing in front of Judge David Doty as he will rule on potential award damages in the lawsuit filed by the players over the owners’ current television contracts. Those contracts would have provided a substantial “war chest” in a lockout. Judge Doty ruled for the players in March, and he will decide on those damages and if there should be an injunction on the TV contracts.

One major question also looms over the NFL Draft to be held over three days later this week. Teams were previously told that the only trades that could take place were ones involving draft picks in the 2011 and future drafts only. With a lifting of the lockout, no one is sure whether deals can be made involving current roster players under contract (for instance, Eagles QB Kevin Kolb).

The next week or so will be unique in NFL history on many levels. In any case, with less than three days before the 2011 NFL Draft, the chaos potential is very high for a league used to order in conducting its business off the field.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Where NFL-NFLPA labor fight stands (April 24)

Posted on 25 April 2011 by Chris Pika

We are on the brink of the first potential leverage either side in the NFL labor fight has had since the lockout by the owners was announced March 11 as Judge Susan Nelson of the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis is reportedly ready to rule on the players’ request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout as part of the Brady v. NFL lawsuit.

However, the victor in Judge Nelson’s ruling will have a short-lived time to celebrate as there will be an immediate appeal on the injunction ruling by the losing side. That means the real leverage for one side won’t be decided until the appeal is heard in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

To revisit the issues behind Brady v. NFL, National Football Post’s Andrew Brandt, who is also reporting on the labor fight for ESPN.com did a primer on March 18 for NFP.

Brandt did an update on April 20 which touched on the mediation brokered by Judge Nelson in advance of her decision and where the situation may be headed in the coming weeks.

Another pressure point will come May 12 when Judge David Doty will hold a hearing to decide damages in the TV lockout-funding case brought by the players against the owners. A major award to the players of money that the owners expected to have as a “war chest” in the lockout could also shift leverage. Doty ruled against the owners in the suit in early March.

Late last week, there were reports that some NFL players were interested in having a seat at the mediation table in Minneapolis. The NFLPA, through its’ NFLLockout.com web site, made an email public from an unspecified law firm looking for 70 potential clients to intervene in the mediation, which broke off April 20.

Meawhile, unlike the previous mediation talks in Washington with George Cohen of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, where details were leaked almost daily, the mediation under Judge Arthur Boylan was done under a gag order which carried real legal issues if it was violated. The mediation talks under Judge Boylan were suspended on April 20 to resume May 16.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t news from the NFL in past two weeks. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held several conference calls with season-ticket holders of the Dolphins, Chargers, Giants and 49ers to go over the league’s positions on the labor issues.

The NFL also released its’ 2011 regular-season schedule. And ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter found that the league built in some safeguards to have a complete schedule even if the first three weeks are not played as planned.

In short, the league has asked Indianapolis to hold hotel rooms for another week to play Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, February 12 if needed. The league would also take away one of the two weeks between the conference championship games, so teams would have to head to Indy the day after winning their respective conference titles for Super Bowl week. Also, every Week 3 game has been safeguarded as the teams off in a particular bye week match up to their Week 3 opponent.

So, according to ESPN, the season could start as late as October 2 (Week 4) and a full 16-game schedule could be played.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Details of my Conversation with NFLPA Rep Jeff Saturday

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Brian Billick

I really enjoyed doing Total Access, on the NFL Network, with Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts.  Jeff is a member of the NFLPA Executive Council and an excellent spokesman for the Union.

Jeff has a very deeply held belief in the Unions position and has an evenhanded approach to the relationship with the owners.  At the end of the day, Jeff knows that whatever form the new CBA takes, it will be a negotiated one.  Unfortunately, the legal action the NFLPA has taken to dispute the owner’s lock out is one that they feel was unavoidable.  Because of the time frame involved, they had to decertify when they did, to give them time to force the action of the owners to avoid the loss of game.  At least that is what they believe.

At the heart of the players request is the need to know what the true operating costs of the owners are, compared to those costs that are associated with a family business, that virtually every teams, except for the Green Bay Packers have.  Jeff contends that they are not out to embarrass the owners nor are they interested in what they do with their own profits as long as it can be quantified and considered with regards to what should be included in the players percentage.

I believe Jeff strongly thinks that some type of agreement will be reach, or at the very least, some type of court judgment will allow for the season to be played. Like Gene Upshaw, Jeff believes that part of the problem is the divergent views that owners like Jerry Jones and Mike Brown have on the view of the economic model the owner wants.  The haves and the have-nots among the owner fraternity may indeed be as much as a problem as the differences between the owners and the players.

There is no question in my mind that a deal can be reached, and that both sides are simply waiting for the courts to decide who has what leverage before they can proceed.  The players that are going to be most harmed are those who would have normally been free agents.  They, on the sort term, will simply be the causalities of the negotiation wars. Some may recoup their loses due to the increase in player revenues, but many are going to see lost wages that will never be recouped.

The NFLPA would do well to put a gag order on their entire member community and simply let guys like Jeff, who have a genuine love of the game and a thorough understanding of the issues, explain their views.  Unfortunately for the owners, they do not have a counterpart to Saturday to present their points of view in as a believable way.

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