NFL CBA Power Players

As labor talks heat up leading to March 4, here’s who’s doing the talking.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, January 29th, 2011 at 10:42 am | Categories: Ryan Mink

While Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti is regarded as one of the league’s up-and-coming influential owners, he said he doesn’t have a role in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

Thus, here are the power-brokers of what will be the NFL’s next CBA:

League Management
NFL Commissioner

This is Goodell’s biggest task since taking office in 2006. He represents the owners’ side of negotiations, but is the presiding voice over the entire league. Among Goodell’s chief platforms is an enhanced 18-2 season in which there would be two more regular season games and two fewer preseason contests.

Executive Vice President of Labor

The league’s lead negotiator is a protégé of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Goodell’s right-hand man. Pash, a Harvard sports lawyer, was the NHL general counsel when the league went into a lockout in 1994 before coming to a new collective bargaining agreement mid-season.

Labor Lawyer

A New York-based labor lawyer, Batterman represented NHL management during its 2004-2005 lockout. That resulted in the loss of a full season. He will advise Goodell and Pash throughout the CBA negotiations and recently said "this is a union waiting for a lockout."

Antitrust Lawyer

In more than a dozen years as the league’s lawyer, Levy has won precedent-setting cases, including in the Supreme Court. He was one of five finalists to succeed Tagliabue, and is especially adept at handling large-scale cases with multiple parties, says the New York Times.

Carolina Panthers Owner/NFL Management Council Executive Committee Co-Chair

According to Yahoo!Sports, Richardson gave a fiery speech to fellow owners last March, imploring his peers to "take back our league." It resonated because of who it came from. The former Baltimore Colts player is a well-respected mediator. He was credited with ending a stalemate between Tagliabue and Upshaw during 2006 CBA negotiations.

Denver Broncos Owner
NFL Management Council Executive Committee Co-Chair

Bowlen is one of the league’s tenured owners, presiding over the Broncos for 27 years. He’s also one of a handful of owners trying to balance expensive stadium upgrades. According to Yahoo!, Bowlen puts the league’s interests above his own. He’s reportedly making fewer big decisions due to health problems, however.


NFL Management Council Executive Committee: Richardson (Panthers), Bowlen (Broncos), Jones (Cowboys), Kraft (Patriots), Clark Hunt (Chiefs), Mike Brown (Bengals), Dean Spanos (Chargers), John Mara (Giants), Art Rooney II (Steelers), Mark Murphy (Packers)

Union Management
National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director

Smith is the newly-elected (2009) voice of the players. Known for his impassioned speaking, the former Washington D.C. prosecutor is looking to maintain a favorable deal that former executive director Gene Upshaw forged for players. It’s also his first chance to prove himself to his constituents.

NFLPA Counsel

The experienced pro-labor antitrust lawyer litigated McNeil vs. NFL, which set the stage for NFL free agency. He has worked with the players unions of the NFL, NHL, MLB, AFL (Arena Football League) and more. Kessler will be the chief person locking horns with Pash.

General Counsel

Berthelsen was the interim executive director after Upshaw’s death in August of 2008. He has been working for the NFL Players Association since 1972 as a legal counsel. On Jan. 14, Berthelsen denied that the union wants a lockout, according to The Washington Post.

General Counsel

An experienced trial lawyer who specializes in high stakes commercial disputes, Quinn was the lead counsel for NFL players in McNeil vs. NFL. He has had a far-reaching effect on other sports and in other complex litigation and alternative dispute resolution.

NFLPA President

The former 16-year offensive lineman (Seahawks, Jets, Titans) was elected by the players as president in 2008 and has served on the executive committee since 2002. He’s long been known for his intelligence and strong voice, particularly on financial and health-care issues. The eight-time Pro Bowler retired before the start of the 2010 season.

NFLPA Executive Committee Member

Foxworth is a budding star within the players union. A smart, well-spoken mediator, Foxworth is serving his first term on the Executive Committee after being elected as an alternate Player Representative last year. At the age of 27, he is the youngest member on a veteran-laden executive committee.


NFL Executive Committee: Mawae (retired), Foxworth (Ravens), QB Charlie Batch (Steelers), QB Drew Brees (Saints), S Brian Dawkins (Broncos), LB Scott Fujita (Browns), Sean Morey (retired), FB Tony Richardson (Jets), C Jeff Saturday (Colts), LB Mike Vrabel (Chiefs), G Brian Waters (Chiefs)

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