It's good to be back with you as we look to get the season started in the NFL. There are a lot of challenges the league faces as the season starts. I'll be addressing them on OTL at 3 p.m. ET. But I'm here to address them now. So fire away!
Enjoy following you on Twitter, Andrew. How much of an impact do you think the replacement refs will have on the NFL's product? Will people perceive the refs to hurt the quality of the game maybe more than it actually will?
First, I have to admit to being wrong on this. I was the eternal optimist and thought like the player dispute last year that this would be resolved by the beginning of the regular season. It wasn't resolved before Wednesday's games and doesn't look to be resolved before Sunday's games. The performance Wednesday night by the replacement refs was good enough. No big mistakes. Nothing for the real refs to harp on in their negotiations. I think people will be looking for on Sunday are inferior quality of officiating and thinking that could perhaps change the leverage game in these negotiations. I do not believe that the NFL will change its position in this negotiation no matter what happens on Sunday. They have been at a position in this negotiation and do not seem to be budging, even in the face of potential bad calls.
So, I expect the replacement refs to do well in some games, average in others and have some gaffs in a few. But that does not change the equation. This is a negotiation, no more, no less, it will be interesting to see how long it lasts. My new projection is the refs will be there Week 2.
Hey Andrew! How is the case going between the NFLPA and the NFL over the alleged collusion following the salary cap penalties to the Cowboys and Redskins? Do they have a case and is there still a possibility that the Redskins and Cowboys could be compensated if the NFLPA wins?
Judge Doty is trying to decide whether to reopen the old CBA, because the new CBA has a relief clause that prevents the NFLPA from suing over collusion. As to the penalties against the Cowboys or Redskins, I am wondering what else there is to the story. In other words, what exactly did the NFLPA think they were signing when they were a party to the $46 million of penalties against the Redskins and Cowboys. They are, I believe, trying to argue that they were strong armed into agreeing to that in order to get a cap number, at least equivalent to the 2011 cap number. With all of their lawyers reading these documents its hard for me to believe they signed under duress.
The Redskins and Cowboys brought an arbitration against the NFL for these penalties and that went for the NFL and the teams decided not to appeal. As to them getting their cap room back, that ship might have sailed. As to the bigger issue of collusion, time will tell. The potential award for collusion, it's trying to speculate what teams would have spent were it not for a "secret salary cap." This is yet another challenge for the NFL as we now try to focus on the games.
At this point, doesn't the NFL have to ride it out with the replacement refs? Tehy've let it go this long.
From a negotiating position, I think that is probably correct. They are doing what they are thinking is probably fair to the refs and I don't see them moving no matter how poorly the replacement refs are doing. Time will tell if the real refs move to their position.
Once again, like the players' dispute, the NFL doesn't <i>need</i> the refs to make less; they want the refs to make less. That was the same position they had against the players. This is a negotiation the NFL feels it can accomplish and likely will.
How do the new CBA rules for practice work on a thursday game?
Nothing specific other than the limitations on padded practices. Therefore teams that went heavy on both Wednesday and Thursday may have to adjust one of those days. You bring up a good point about a typical NFL week. Players come in Monday to mostly watch film, are off Tuesday and the primary practice time is Wednesday and Thursday with walk throughs on Friday and Saturday. The design of the limited padded practices is to make players fresher for the end of the season. Time will tell if that goal is being accomplished.
Do you think the NFL secretly hopes that the start of the season will make some of these issues go away?
I think that's correct. These issues are going to linger, but hopefully the games will put them in the background. The issue of the Saints bounties and a judge potentially intervening in Goodell discipline and the lingering issue of 3,000 plaintiffs suing the NFL regarding concussions are big, big issues for the NFL. However, now that we're going to have 15-16 games per week to talk about, those issues will move to the background. And only people like me will spend a lot of time tracking them. So, yes the NFL season can not come soon enough for NFL executives.
If the other franchises and the commissioner want to confiscate something from one targeted franchise, and the NFLPA signs off, is there any limit to what they can steal? And why would the NFLPA ever sign off on anything like this?
I think the penalties to the Cowboys and Redskins regarding the uncapped year in 2010 is one of the curious cases in NFL history. In the one hand, there were no written rules and no prescriptions against what they did. On the other hand, there were repeated verbal warnings to all teams advising them to not abuse the uncapped year towards gaining future competitive advantages over other teams. It appears 28 teams complied with that unwritten warning but the Cowboys and Redskins and to a lesser extent the Saints and Raiders, did not. The discipline was approved by the 28 owners and the money was taken away and redistributed so the NFL can say league wide there was no dimunution of cap room.
It is interesting that Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder did not appeal the ruling against them. My sense is in the political world of NFL ownership, they feel like they have a chip to use now against Commissioner Goodell and the other owners. That will help them down the road. But again, NFL owners are colleagues, but they're also competitors. There is no doubt that some of them were feeling quite smug about penalizing Snyder and Jones. But, to them, payback may be coming.
Let's play the Hypotheticals here: if the NFLPA wins the concussion lawsuit against the NFL, how will it change the landscape of the game?
I think this thing is going to take years, if it is not dismissed. The NFL is arguing for dismissal based on the fact that these are CBA issues. If it is not dismissed, the earliest filings will be later this fall and then the court will have to deal with the weighty issue of 3,000 plaintiffs and where they all fit, between depositions and court calendars, it will be years, not months, before this reaches any courtroom. And I do think the plaintiffs have an uphill climb to try to prove fraudulent concealment of risks associated with playing football. Time will tell where this case goes, but we may be reading about this case for years.
Hey Andrew, any updates on the TRO's for the suspended Saints players? Any chance they will be able to play sunday?
We're waiting for a ruling on whether the judge will grant restraining order for the players from keeping them suspended. She has not ruled yet and I think she's waiting for the CBA process to play out. There was an Appeals Panel ruling last week about whether Goodell has juristiction on these bounties. The players had issued that this was a cap issue rather than a player issue. The players lost the first round of that. So, I think the judge is waiting for the Appeals Panel to rule, which I expected to happen this week. Something could potentiall happen this afternoon, but it is certainly safe to say those players are very unlikely to play this weekend.
Great questions, as always. We'll be talking about these issues on OTL at 3 p.m. ET, writing my weekly column on the NFL page on ESPN.com, and as always Tweeting @ADBrandt.
I will be doing these every Friday at noon ET. I look forward to talking to everyone at this time and this place every week.