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Mike Brown: “All the union cared about was the money”

NFL Contract Talks Continue As Deadline Approaches

WASHINGTON - MARCH 10: Mike Brown, owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, arrives, at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building March 10, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute during a 7 day extension of talks. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

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Five years ago, Bengals owner Mike Brown was one of only two owners that didn’t approve the collective bargaining agreement. It wasn’t long before a majority of his colleagues agreed with his take.

Following Friday’s decertification and subsequent lockout, Brown spoke with Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer about what comes next. Brown promised that no one in the organization will be fired or be forced to take a furlough.

“We have an obligation to our people and ask them not to carry an unfair burden,” Brown said.

Brown believes the union wanted to go to court rather than collectively bargain. And he doesn’t think the rookie wage scale or 18-game season ultimately prevented an agreement.

“It came down to the obvious point that all the union cared about was the money and these other things certainly didn’t matter enough,” Brown said. “It’s a tremendous situation that they have and it has become burdensome for the teams. Yes, we’re asking for some relief going forward. I don’t think that was unreasonable.”

On one hand, Brown is right: “The money” is essentially the one big issue no matter what anyone says. Solve that and the rest will fall in line.

On the other hand, Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports was on to something when he wrote about the emotion on the players side. Mistrust and anger from players may have played a bigger role on Friday than Brown understands.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have played that big a role, but this wasn’t just “business” to players. They feel like they are getting pushed around and wanted to fight back.

Brown’s words won’t help matters, but we’ll leave things on a note that’s worth keeping in mind for frustrated fans.

“I’ve been through ups and downs in labor negotiations in the NFL and there is one thing similar in all of them,” Brown said. “They do come to an end and you get back together and you go out and play football. This one will be no different.”