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Players begin P.R. push

G. Atallah

From Friday through Sunday, nearly all of the P.R. spin regarding the NFL’s labor dispute was being spun by the league, primarily through a coordinated campaign that apparently included talking points on which the Giants and Dolphins relied, nearly verbatim.

On Monday, the players commenced the process of pushing back.

In a conference call arranged by the NFLPA* and primarily handled by spokesman George Atallah, president Kevin Mawae, and Executive Committee member Drew Brees (with cameos from Sean Morey and Jeff Saturday), the players answered various questions regarding the litigation and the negotiations.

Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order.

Atallah said that there would be no comment on the report that the NFLPA* had instructed incoming rookies to boycott the draft.

Brees made clear his passion for the cause. “I’m one of the lead plaintiffs for our case because it’s important to me,” Brees said. “I feel very strongly about our case. I feel very strongly about the facts and the law.”

Mawae said that any suggestion the players walked away from the bargaining table was a “fabrication and a lie.” Echoing Cardinals kicker Jay Feely’s description of frustration experienced by the players last week, Mawae said that, during 16 hours at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Tuesday and Wednesday, roughly 30 minutes were spent meeting with the owners directly.

Mawae also attacked NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, said that the league’s “paid attorney is lying, not just to us but to the fans of the NFL.”

As to the league’s offer to defer the 18-game season for at least two years, Mawae said “we cannot justify it,” it’s “not gonna happen” and it “never will be” part of any proposal.

Still, Mawae said that the players “want to get a deal done.” Brees said that the deal offered by the league on Friday was “unreasonable and unrealistic,” and that the league simply hoped to take the offer to the media ans say “we offered a good deal . . . and they walked away.”

And while Feely told PFT Live that the two sides aren’t that far apart, Atallah had this to say about the gap in the positions: “The perception is that we were really, really close. The reality is we really, really weren’t.”

It remains to be seen what else the players have to say moving forward. Feely did a great job today, and the players need more people like him who will take the time to share the players’ position.