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The National Football League filed an unfair labor practice charge against its players’ union with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, another bad sign for the 2012 Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium.
ESPN’s John Clayton, one of the few who have been optimistic that a deal could be worked out by mid March, said this morning that even he is losing hope.
The NFL’s filing says the union “consistently has failed to confer in good faith” during negotiations. NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah said the NFL’s claim “has absolutely no merit.”
Recent maneuvering makes it appear both sides are positioning for a court battle, rather than trying to find common ground for a resolution. A court battle, if it comes to that, is likely to be lengthy.
Remember that in 1995 it took a court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, now a Supreme Court justice, to end a dispute between Major League Baseball and its players. That 232-day labor fight caused the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.
MLB owners were intent on trying to break the union during the 1994-95 strike. The current NFL labor fight has the same appearance.
NFL and union officials were set to meet today and tomorrow, but sources close to the league said those talks are not happening.
Maybe it’s just as well. Recent meetings haven’t gone well, including one the day before this year’s Super Bowl that involved Peyton Manning.
Sources at the meeting told Yahoo! Sports and the Associated Press that Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson scoffed at Manning after the Colts quarterback questioned the owners’ desire to take $2 billion—as opposed to the current $1 billion—off the top before sharing revenue with players.
“[Richardson] was condescending to Peyton,” a player who was at the meeting told Yahoo! Sports. “He tried to talk about P&L [profit and loss] statements and all these other risks that the owners assume, as if Peyton didn’t know anything. Drew [Brees] interrupted and said, ‘All we’re doing is just asking you to show us your books. We want to negotiate in good faith.’”
Players at the meeting said Manning was visibly shaken by Richardson’s behavior.
“We were so pissed,” another player who was present told Yahoo! Sports. “Peyton was breathing heavily, and some of us were about ready to jump across the table.”
After a short break, several owners reportedly apologized to Manning and other players present.
One year ago, the two sides were $1 billion apart. Today, the same gap separates the two sides.
Yes, we’re in for a long fight. And it might take a court order to save Indianapolis’ Super Bowl.