When is a proposal not a proposal? When the NFL and the NFL Players Association are involved.
According to sources familiar with the talks, last week's negotiations between the NFLPA and the NFL broke off when the union characterized its documents as an "illustration" that NFL officials believed represented a proposal for revenue sharing between owners and players.
When the NFLPA characterized documents labeled "NFLPA Proposal" as something other than a collective bargaining proposal, the NFL ended the session, a source familiar with the talks said. League representatives then met outside the room, and returned only to abort the negotiations -- without immediately rescheduling any talks, the source added.
"As often happens in collective bargaining, the parties reached a point where there was a fundamental difference on a critical issue that was not going to be reconciled that day," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "The discussions were adjourned to permit both parties to assess their positions and consider how to move the process forward. Far from abandoning the process, in the first four days after the Super Bowl, we have had two meetings of our labor executive committee and negotiating team, a conference call with all 32 clubs, and a meeting with the union."
All the posturing and politicizing on both sides is bad enough. What makes it sound even worse is when the sides can't even get together on the parameters of what they are getting together on.
If Roger Goodell lets the NFL enter a no-play zone in 2011, that will be his short-term, and possibly his long-term legacy. If he's really a get things done guy, he needs to stop the insanity. Now. Goodell needs to turn these negotiations old-school. Gather a few no-nonsense folks from each side, get them in a room, get out the cigars and booze, order in a heap of food, and get an honest framework that everyone can abide by. Otherwise, prepare for a downward spiral of nonsense and blame, culminating in the killing of the golden goose.