Late for Work 2/11: NFL Disputes Blame For Talks Breakdown

Plus Md. could lose $13M if the season is cancelled, but what are the chances of that?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, February 11th, 2011 at 9:05 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

NFL Disputes Blame For Talks Breakdown

If the league and the players’ union can’t talk, avoiding a lockout on March 4 proves to be more difficult.

That’s why the early dismissal of a scheduled seven-hour negotiating meeting on Wednesday and a subsequent cancelled meeting for Thursday and next Tuesday made headlines across the Web.

The Associated Press said the collapse of talks came as a “surprise,” but neither the NFL nor the union’s Executive Director DeMaurice Smith commented on why Thursday’s session was called off.

That didn’t stop ESPN from trying to solve the mystery.

According to Chris Mortenson, owners walked away from the negotiating table Wednesday when the NFL Players Association proposed to take an average of 50 percent of all revenue generated by the league. He added that NFL owners canceled Thursday’s meeting because the two sides are so far apart.

But’s Jason La Canfora said frustration set in during Wednesday’s meeting because the two sides “weren’t getting anywhere” and the same arguments were coming up.

Ultimately both sides broke away from the table,” reported La Canfora.

He added, “It’s a hiccup for sure, [but] it’s not an unprecedented hiccup. Time remains to get a deal done. They do have future talks scheduled.”

The NFL released a statement Thursday night calling media reports “inaccurate” for putting the responsibility of the breakdown in talks on the league.
Said the NFL:

"Despite the inaccurate characterizations of yesterday’s meeting, out of respect to the collective bargaining process and our negotiating partner, we are going to continue to conduct negotiations with the union in private and not engage in a point-counterpoint on the specifics of either side’s proposals or the meeting process. Instead, we will work as hard as possible to reach a fair agreement by March 4. We are fully focused on that goal."

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who is an NFLPA National executive committee member, wasn’t happy about the cancelled meetings.

 ”I was at the @NFLPA and @nfl meetings yesterday and am sorely disappointed that today’s meetings were canceled,” tweeted Foxworth.

“I can PROMISE you that @NFLPA is trying every avenue to bring you football next year. #letusplay or at least #letustalk,” he added.

Md. Could Lose $3.8M If Season Canceled

If work stoppage does occur and extends through the 2011 season, the state stands to lose a chunk of change.

Maryland could be out $3.8 million in revenue from tickets sold to Ravens games
should the entire season be cancelled, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

According to the report, admission taxes from Ravens games make up 13 percent of the Maryland Stadium Authority’s budgeted revenue.

“That money is needed for annual payments on debt for the state-owned Camden Yards sports complex, home to M&T Bank Stadium,” wrote Scott Dance. “If that happens, the stadium authority would have to return about $380,000 in admission taxes for each canceled game.”

But, what are the chances of the Ravens missing an entire season?

Four prominent writers from across the county say a deal won’t be in place by the lockout deadline in March, but none of them predict a season-long stalemate either.

Kevin Van Valkenburg of the Baltimore Sun
believes there is no chance the owners and NFLPA will work out a new labor agreement by March 3.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times
says there’s a very good chance there won’t be a meeting of the minds until a regular-season game or two are missed.

Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune
wrote the most likely scenario is both sides will remain strong and stubborn until July or August.

Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel
sees training camp’s start as the likely time the two sides will get serious.

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