NEW ORLEANS -- Last week, the locked out NFL players had the floor as they held their meetings in Marco Island, Fla. This week, it's the NFL owners turn to get their message out at league meetings at the Roosevelt Hotel.
Jeff Pash, NFL executive vice president and lead negotiator, was among those who addressed owners this morning. Pash then conducted a news conference in the afternoon. It comes as no surprise, but the spin from both sides has reached a fever pitch and honestly I wonder if either side realizes that most fans have no interest in hearing it.
"The owners understand what happened at the end of the mediation session was that the union left and announced that they had engaged in this so called decertification and filed their lawsuit," Pash said in reference to what happened on March 11 when talks broke down. "That's unfortunately what happened."
Earlier today an NFL official -- not Pash -- called the NFL Players Association decertification "a fake suicide." In fact, the NFL made a filing today in response to the players' request for an injuction asking that the federal court in St. Paul wait for the NLRB grievance to be heard. That grievance states the union decertifying is a sham. It's not clear when that grievance will be heard.
Pash did acknowledge that Mike Vrabel, who had been on the executive committee of the NFLPA before it disbanded, had a sensible proposal when he suggested that it would be wise for the players and owners to sit down and meet.
"I think the point that Mike Vrabel made was a fair one," Pash said. "That the people who are writing checks and the people who are cashing checks should be at the table together and let's have decision makers be at the table together. So when he said that their executive committee should be meeting with the CEC [which is the NFL's management Council Executive Committee] I understand that point of view.
"That's why we were very quick to say that our team, including the owners that they asked for, would be prepared to meet with the union's executive committee. ... We could do that at any time. In terms of the middle ground, I guess one possibility which we have entertained would be going back into the mediation process. That is a confidential process and it's one that we think had a lot of benefit over the course of about 18 days. ... The critical thing is that our commitment is to negotiate. We're not going to solve this in litigation. All that's going to do is delay us and I think we made some real progress over the course of the mediation."
Pash did say the NFL is willing to put into place offseason changes immediately for a new deal. That would put limits on offseason workouts and Organized Team Activities.
However, at this point it can't be considered a good thing that it's reporters, and not players, listening to these proposals.
On another note, Chip provided this update on Chris Cook's court hearing today in Virginia.