There’s a saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” As people began to grapple with the realities of a pandemic and a world largely without sports, elite NBA/New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson announced that he’d cover the salaries of largely minimum wage venue workers while Gayle Benson, the owner of the Pelicans as well as the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, who is worth multiple billions compared to Zion’s single-digit millions remained silent. In contrast, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban almost immediately pledged to take care of the team’s hourly workers and began an initiative to provide daycare for the children of healthcare workers. He has also shown leadership in urging that people are not rushed back to work too quickly.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/27/the-covid-19-effect-when-people-show-who-they-are-believe-them/
Not long ago, the issue of player discipline loomed as a high-priority item for the NFLPA when it came time to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement.
Between 2015 and 2017, the union was on the losing end of a string of federal court rulings – in cases involving Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson and Ezekiel Elliott – that reaffirmed the NFL commissioner’s broad disciplinary authority under Article 46 of the CBA, and made it decidedly more difficult for players to successfully challenge the commissioner’s disciplinary decisions in court.
In each of these high-profile cases, the federal courts upheld lengthy suspensions imposed by commissioner Roger Goodell for conduct which he deemed to be detrimental to the game (in the case of Brady), or a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy (in the cases of Peterson and Elliott), despite serious questions being raised as to the fairness of the league investigation and disciplinary proceedings. (Note: The Athletic is currently offering a free 90 trial subscription.)
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/27/deflategate-lessons-unlearned-player-discipline-under-new-cba-largely-unchanged/
Ed O’Neil left the N.F.L. four decades ago, and over the years he has spent less and less time following professional football. He joined the league in 1974 as a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, and he learned last week that as part of the new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement, he and thousands of other former players will get bumps in their pensions. For O’Neil, who is 67 and began drawing on his pension three years ago, that could mean about $1,400 more per month.
But O’Neil, a retired football coach, is not celebrating. His son, Keith, a former linebacker who played four years with the Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts, will see his N.F.L. disability payments decline, another provision of the new labor deal that stipulates that next year about 400 former players on total and permanent disability will see the amount they receive decline by the value of their Social Security disability benefits. Keith O’Neil, who received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes in 2010, will get $2,339 less per month.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/27/help-for-disabled-nfl-players-is-sacrificed-for-pension-deal/
(Originally published by New York Times on March 9) With just days to go before N.F.L. players vote on a 10-year labor agreement, one of the most influential members of its union’s executive committee has accused the staff of the N.F.L. Players Association of negotiating the proposed deal in bad faith.
Russell Okung, who has been vocal opponent of the proposed 10-year labor deal now before roughly 2,000 N.F.L. players, on Monday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, the independent federal agency tasked with guarding employee rights.
The three-page filing accuses the N.F.L.P.A. staff, including its executive director, DeMaurice Smith, of forcing a vote on the deal over the objections of its executive committee, in violation of the union’s constitution. Okung also accused the union’s leadership of trying to muzzle him from speaking out about the lack of transparency with the executive committee about the negotiations with N.F.L. owners, which began last year.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/27/nfl-player-accuses-union-leaders-of-bad-faith-cbanegotiation/
“Hating labor and labor unions is America’s unofficial pastime. When a star athlete signs a multimillion-dollar contract, the talk radio lines explode with fans deconstructing the value of the deal, protecting the billionaire team owner’s money as if it were their own. Striking teachers immediately face the cries that they shouldn’t complain about their wages because they get the summers off. When football players, after years of providing entertainment for couch potatoes nationwide, sue their league for not disclosing the devastating health risks accompanied with the fame of stardom, those same fans, who bought the jerseys and asked for the autographs, turn coldly against their former heroes and say things like “Nobody put a gun to their head.” Americans expect workers to take what they get. If you don’t like it, leave. Or as they say in the NFL, next man up.” These are the opening lines of Howard Bryant’s essay entitled “What Colin Kaepernick Taught Us”, part of a collection of essays recently published in his latest literary masterpiece, his book Full Dissidence: Notes From An Uneven Playing Field. Labor talks and fights in regular life are not popular, especially when unions are involved, but the sentiment is exacerbated when it comes to people who play a game for a living, whose contracts and salaries (usually with numbers starting on six-figure step of the financial ladder) are being widely reported on and dissected in all forms of media by experts and fans alike: pro athletes.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/11/not-so-free-agency/
Having covered the NFL’s Disability Plan for going on four years, I’m well accustomed to seeing the litigation mitigation tactics used there, of revising Plan Documents with new language annually to close the “loopholes” in which a player prevailed in court, overturning the denial of his claim. Now it’s turning up in the CBA.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/09/dont-get-hurt-playing-under-the-proposed-cba/
This week NFL Players are faced with the daunting and unenviable task of accepting or rejecting a new 10-year CBA and electing a new president. Thus far the only player to announce a run at the presidency is former Chargers left tackle Russell Okung who was traded to the Carolina Panthers this week.
Okung is an extremely smart, well-informed, reform-oriented player who staunchly opposes the proposed CBA that owners seem almost desperate to shove down players’ throats. In a New York Times article, Ken Belson relates that Okung is ready to “disrupt the NFL establishment,” and this is precisely what needs to happen if players are ever going to be seen as a partner instead of a product that views them as wind-up toys for the owners’ profit and pleasure.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/08/cba-part-3-a-look-at-pensions-w-o-parity-and-the-hospital-network/
Injuries are an unfortunate reality in the NFL. Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has been quoted as saying in support of ACA and in opposition to Workers’ Compensation scale-backs that all NFL players will leave the game with preexisting conditions. In view of that, it’s puzzling as to why he finds the proposed CBA that will leave many who wind up disabled acceptable and has even gone so far as to recommend it despite a 7-4 vote by the Executive Committee against.
In Part I of my series on the CBA, I explained how Article 39 will essentially strip players of their right to sue in the same vein as the waiver Colin Kaepernick refused to sign prior to a league arranged workout.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/08/nfl-owners-demand-17-games-yet-slash-disability/
Whether you speak of a nation or football league, class warfare is a lethal weapon when deployed effectively. For the past 10 years, the NFL has game planned and executed that plan through the CBA now up for voting by NFLPA members. The strategy is simultaneously brilliant and despicable. In my view, they’ve managed to lock players into a chess match against the devil with life-and-death consequences for those who are left behind. The provisions contained in the proposed agreement have gone so far as not only dividing active membership but also retired players, pitting the needs of one group of players against the needs of his alumni brothers.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/06/nfls-plan-to-divide-and-conquer-is-clear-in-proposed-cba/
The NFL has shown time and again that it’s a leopard that never changes its spots. In response to an appeal by a nine-year defensive lineman who was diagnosed with severe dementia at the young age of 33, the NFL has continued to repeat the same numbing refrain that it has for the better part of three years in its quest to stop dementia claims in their tracks, especially the claims of younger players, whom the NFL doesn’t want to admit are damaged, nor does it want to pay the high-dollar awards that younger claimants qualify for.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2020/03/02/attorney-goes-on-offense-against-nfls-spotty-misrepresentations-in-gordon-case/