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Money matters: NFL, union wrangle publicly on CBA

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 10 2011 2:05 a.m. MST

—an independent auditor to examine the data.

As far back as 2009, Smith told Goodell: "As you know, the NFLPA does not have access to a wide range of information that is directly relevant to the contention that the current CBA fails to address the owners' concerns."

"For example," the letter said, "the NFL and the teams do not provide the NFLPA with their audited financial statements detailing the profit (loss) information for the teams. We also lack the information to discern the profits (losses) per regular season games, the profit per team per playoff game and other fixed financial non-player costs."

The CBA dates to 2006, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008. The deal was set to expire last week, before two extensions pushed the cutoff to the end of Friday.

Goodell was joined by three members of the owners' 10-person labor committee: Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers, John Mara of the New York Giants, and Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs. More owners are expected to attend on Thursday.

If a deal isn't reached by Friday, the sides could agree to another extension. Or talks could break off, leading to, possibly, a lockout by owners or antitrust lawsuits by players.

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, the NFLPA asked the federal judge, who ruled in its favor in a case involving TV contracts, to release information that the NFL wants kept confidential. U.S. District Court judge David Doty sided with the players last week, saying the league illegally set up $4 billion in payments from networks — money the union argued was collected to fund a lockout.

Wednesday's move seemed to be reminder to the league of two important points — the possibility of legal action if no new CBA is reached, and the union's insistence on transparency.

The NFLPA said in its filing that the NFL hasn't explained why material should be sealed and that the league hasn't cooperated with the union's attempt to propose limited redactions to protect third-party information only.

"The NFL cannot be permitted to comment publicly about these proceedings and then turn around to embrace a cloak of confidentiality that thwarts the public's right to know," union lawyers wrote.

The league said it would respond to the filing.

AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, and AP Sports Writer Joseph White in Washington contributed to this report.

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