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SI.com: Players' secret lockout insurance could have sparked talks


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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jim_trotter/07/15/secret-lockout-fund/index.html?xid=si_nfl

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From the moment he was elected executive director of the NFL Players Association in March 2009, DeMaurice Smith always took the long view when it came to negotiations with the owners on a new collective bargaining agreement. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

It's one of the reasons that slightly more than a year ago he received approval from the executive committee to secure insurance that would pay each player roughly $200,000 if there were no football in 2011.

Smith disclosed the fund to only a handful of people outside of the executive committee. However with negotiations seemingly at a standstill late Wednesday night, the decision was made to play one of their aces in the hole. So in the relative quiet of the sides' New York City bargaining room the next morning, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth informed the owners of the previously secret lockout fund.

Was that the shove in the back that moved the sides closer to a potential agreement? Only the owners know for sure, but a source close to one of them said the disclosure definitely got that side's attention. Perhaps for good reason.

The common perception has been that the players' solidarity would crumble once they started missing paychecks. However the foundation beneath that line of thinking would be as solid as Jell-O if the players could couple the insurance with a large financial award from U.S. District Judge David Doty, who previously ruled the owners had illegally created a $4.3 billion lockout fund for themselves by renegotiating their TV deals at the expense of the players.

"Players Association leadership looked into this as a last possible resort to keep players together in case games would be missed," one players-side source said of the insurance war chest. "It was never intended to be used as a bargaining chip or negotiating point until things became critical."

Thursday was a critical point. If the sides could not advance negotiations then the possibility of hundreds of millions of dollars being lost to canceled preseason games was real. And if the owners allowed the impasse to get that far, what was to stop them from testing the players' pain threshold by extending the lockout into the regular season?

The Players Association began informing its membership about the insurance fund over the past week and brought it up in the negotiating room for the first time Thursday. There's no way to know at this time whether it was the final oomph that pushed negotiations onto positive ground, but it's hard to believe it didn't have some impact considering the talks were "not in a good place" the previous night when the sides broke for the day.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jim_trotter/07/15/secret-lockout-fund/index.html#ixzz1SBvoELvo

I gotta say, I applaud Smith for this move. Very shrewd move, and I'm sure the players appreciate the fact that they weren't just being hung out to dry. Though both sides deserve a lot of blame, I think Smith has played his hand quite well.

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brilliant if true... like out of a freaking movie... the owners' biggest hand to play was the players not having any income for the year...

if this story is flushed out and this move ends up being a key component in getting the deal done (and presumably one favorable to the players), smith will go down as a legend...

nothing I've heard him say in public has impressed me either but shrewd.. very shrewd...

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Could you imagine the look on the faces of the insurance company executives when told they'd have to pony up a millions of dollars to almost 1700 players at a tune of $200K each?

Won't happen.

That's easy money for the insurance companies.

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Could you imagine the look on the faces of the insurance company executives when told they'd have to pony up a millions of dollars to almost 1700 players at a tune of $200K each?

I'm more imagining the amount of premium that said insurance cost. If they have a season that premium is almost all profit and you know it is a huge chunk of cash.

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How the hell is this legal if the owners got smacked down in court for having lockout insurance?

The owners didn't buy lock out insurance. They agreed to take less money in TV contracts in order to get money for the lock out they initiated. The problem is that their agreement with players stated that they were supposed to attempt to get as much money as possible. Agreeing to less violated that agreement.

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The owners didn't buy lock out insurance. They agreed to take less money in TV contracts in order to get money for the lock out they initiated. The problem is that their agreement with players stated that they were supposed to attempt to get as much money as possible. Agreeing to less violated that agreement.
Sorry, that's BS. The owner's planned ahead in case of the lockout and got blasted for it, especially due to their "secrecy" in doing so. Now, the PA admit they've done the same, in complete secrecy nonetheless, and people are applauding it. It is one of the biggest double standards I've seen in a long time.

And, to everyone feeling that this "surprise" revelation sparked the talks, the two sides have been spearheading, talking, negotiating for the past TWO WEEKS more than they ever had during the past year. This revelation, which happened yesterday, had very little to do with the progress that is being made. Believing that is simply ignoring what has been taking place over the last 12-15 days.

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It's one of the reasons that slightly more than a year ago he received approval from the executive committee to secure insurance that would pay each player roughly $200,000 if there were no football in 2011.

$200,000...hell, that's one of Dez Bryant's earrings.

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Sorry, that's BS. The owner's planned ahead in case of the lockout and got blasted for it, especially due to their "secrecy" in doing so. Now, the PA admit they've done the same, in complete secrecy nonetheless, and people are applauding it. It is one of the biggest double standards I've seen in a long time.

And, to everyone feeling that this "surprise" revelation sparked the talks, the two sides have been spearheading, talking, negotiating for the past TWO WEEKS more than they ever had during the past year. This revelation, which happened yesterday, had very little to do with the progress that is being made. Believing that is simply ignoring what has been taking place over the last 12-15 days.

Can you point out where the players were forbidden from doing this? Of course not. Meanwhile it's been shown, to the satisfaction of the courts, that the owners violated their agreement in accepting less money from TV contracts. What they did is like your real estate agent agreeing to accepting a lower offer for your house in exchange for money from the buyer. It's not complicated and trying to equate an insurance purchase to that is laughable nonsense.

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Sorry, that's BS. The owner's planned ahead in case of the lockout and got blasted for it, especially due to their "secrecy" in doing so. Now, the PA admit they've done the same, in complete secrecy nonetheless, and people are applauding it. It is one of the biggest double standards I've seen in a long time.

And, to everyone feeling that this "surprise" revelation sparked the talks, the two sides have been spearheading, talking, negotiating for the past TWO WEEKS more than they ever had during the past year. This revelation, which happened yesterday, had very little to do with the progress that is being made. Believing that is simply ignoring what has been taking place over the last 12-15 days.

in getting less money from the TV companies, that means less money for the players as the salary cap is based on revenues. The insured themselves at the detriment to the players despite a contract requiring them to get the most money they can. They initiated the lockout and screwed over the players before-hand in preparation. the players merely insured themselves against it which hurts nobody. what they do with their money is their business. What the owners did with negotiating with the TV companies is the business of the entire league.

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