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NFL Player’s Association executive director DeMaurice Smith was at the Ravens’ training facility on Wednesday to speak with general manager Ozzie Newsome and meet with the team.
I was able to grab him for some quick comments regarding the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Luckily for football fans, Smith was optimistic that a new CBA could be worked out before the NFL goes to an uncapped year in 2010.
If a new deal cannot get done, there is the potential of a lockout in 2011. Unluckily for me, that would not be good for people that work for a team.
Smith is putting much of the onus on the owners, however.
“I can’t lock out the players,” he said. “My expectation is to get a deal done before an uncapped year. I think that’s good for our game. There are only one group of people that can lock the doors to the stadium, and last time I checked, I don’t have those keys.
“I believe we have an obligation to do everything we can to keep this game going. That’s why I’ve been so insistent on trying to have substantive CBA meetings with proposals virtually since the day I got elected.”
Smith also touched on the NFL’s finances. He has publicly stated that he wants owners to open their books to the public, which only the publicly-owned Green Bay Packers must do at this time.
“It seems to me that if there is something to change with the current CBA, I think the best way to demonstrate that is to provide the financial justification for it,” Smith explained. “I know that it’s an $8 billion business last year. I know that the teams, according to Forbes, generate a significant amount of operating revenue even in hard economic times. We know that there are some teams facing blackout situations at a time when these teams are still turning out profit.
“Look, the players signed a deal in 2006 that was envisioned to go to 2012. We didn’t walk away from that deal. We didn’t walk away from that contract. When someone comes to me and says the current structure of that deal doesn’t work, I don’t think it’s an outlandish question to say, ‘Why?’ and to expect someone demonstrate that.”
With Smith in Baltimore, the Ravens also held elections for their new NFLPA player representative, a position which longtime Ravens kicker Matt Stover used to hold.