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Smith's letter to the fans

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Posted March 11, 2011 @ 9:34 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

The National Football League Players' Association released a statement Friday evening that responded to the statements released earlier in the evening by commissioner Roger Goodell and the league.

The statement features a letter from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith to the fans. It also includes a list of issues that caused the mediation talks to break down and led the union to apply for decertification.

NFLPA RESPONSE TO THE NFL: THE TRUTH

"This has been a long and arduous process. Many of our players are tired. I am tired. We have worked hard as a player leadership for two years to prevent this moment.

"To the fans, we are sorry it came to this today. You deserve better. I am truly sorry. The players are sorry. Our players — YOUR players — left everything they had at the table. I have asked them for two years to commit themselves to this process. I have asked them as businessmen in the business of football to commit to leading their teammates through this process. I have asked them to leave their families, be at every meeting, review every document and engage in every part of negotiations. They exceeded every expectation. They should be proud and hold their heads high for their leadership.

"I want to thank all of you that have supported our players from the beginning, who took the time to understand the issues related to the business of our game and will remain a part of our family. These teams are your teams from Steeler nation to the 12th man in Seattle.

"As businessmen, we asked the owners two years ago to consider two basic tenets to getting a fair deal: financial transparency and the health and safety of our players. Financial transparency would help us reach a compromise. Even until the last moment, we were rebutted. And as for health and safety, that's a non-negotiable issue. To our players, I will not ever yield on this point. There is no price tag for your arms, legs, backs, necks, shoulders and brains.

"To our forefathers: Radovich, White, Mackey, McNeil, Duerson and Powell; I want you to know that the torch has been passed to Brady, Brees, Manning, Vrabel, Umenyiora, Leber, Mankins, Robison, Jackson, and a brave young Aggie prospect named Von Miller. The measure of our Association is the men and their families who fight for the only thing they can bestow to each other: a better game, a safer game, and a  recognition from those who own for common respect.

"This is the only inheritance we can provide to the men who play, their families and those who have served before and after us."

— NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, March 11, 2011

According to the NFLPA, here are the issues that prevented a new Collective Bargaining Agreement from being reached on Friday:

  • The NFL demanded a multi-billion dollar giveback and refused to provide any legitimate financial information to justify it.
  • The NFL's offer on March 7 to give the NFLPA a single sheet of numbers was NOT financial disclosure. The players' accountants and bankers advised that the "offered" information was meaningless: only two numbers for each year.
  • The NFL wanted to turn the clock back on player compensation by four years, moving them back to where they were in 2007.
  • The NFL offered no proposal at all for long-term share of revenues.
  • NFL demanded 100 percent of all revenues which went above unrealistically low projections for the first four years.
  • The NFL refused to meet the players on significant changes to in-season, offseason or preseason health and safety rules.
  • The NFL kept on the table its hypocritical demand for an 18-game season, despite its public claims to be working toward improving the heath and safety of players.
  • The NFL wanted cutbacks in payer workers' compensation benefits for injured players.
  • The NFL sought to limit rookie compensation long after they become veterans — into players' fourth and fifth years
  • THE PLAYERS WANT TO KEEP PLAYING: The players offered repeatedly to continue working under the existing CBA, but were rejected by the NFL five times. 
  • Despite publicly admitting no club was losing money, that TV ratings, sponsorship money, etc. were at an all-time high, the NFL continued to insist on an 18-percent rollback in the players' share of revenues and continue to deny the NFLPA's request for justification.

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