View from the Moon: Talks off, but far from over

View from the Moon: Talks off, but far from over

Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted 5:07 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Wake me when its over.

That was the reaction of one football fan I suspect more than one - early Friday as time ticked away on the second extension for negotiations between the leagues owners and players. In the end, the sands ran out and darkness settled over the land.

So unfortunately, its not over. And probably wont be for awhile.

The NFLPA demanded disclosure of financials by a deadline this afternoon. NFL owners didnt comply. The union decertified, renouncing its union status with a terse simple statement:

The NFL Players Association announced today it has informed the NFL, NFL clubs and other necessary parties that it has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League. The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.

So the talks are broken off, pretty much as expected by many despite whiffs of optimism. As Bears President Ted Phillips suggested Friday, an agreement will be worked out at some point.

But that point isnt here yet. In a prepared statement at the end of Fridays talks in Washington, D.C., federal mediator George Cohen was closed things down officially:

During this extensive period a wide variety of issues, both economic and work-related, were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner consistent with what one would expect can take place in a constructive, corrective bargaining setting. Those differences were explored at length. Consensus emerged in a number of them and in others, differences were narrowed and focused.

Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement nor have they been able to resolve at this time strongly held competing views that separate them on core issues.

In these circumstances, after reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered opinion of yours trulythat no constructive purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue mediation at this time.

Now the matter moves from mediation to litigation. The point for the union, such as it is now, is to file an antitrust action in court, which would be expected ultimately to require some disclosure of financials. How much information is problematic, because owners do not want Congress or courts taking actions that could shake the foundations of the sport structure as it now exists, including the exclusivity on incoming players that teams enjoy through the draft

The expectation now becomes that little will really happen until sometime this summer, possibly even September based on some comments. The union did decertify in 1989 and eventually the result was the institution of free agency beginning in 1993.

The players are saying now that theyre not a union. Appeals will be coming. Best guess is that things will slog along with painful slowness until matters approach the precipice beyond which money starts being lost by one or both sides.

And as more than a few fans have said, Wake me when its over.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Thursday's unit: the tight ends.

1. Will Zach Miller make the 53-man roster?

Miller didn’t play a single down from 2012-14, and has missed seven games in two seasons with the Bears, but he’s been productive when on the field: 110 targets, 81 receptions, 925 yards and nine touchdowns. But the Bears signed Dion Sims to an $18 million contract and then drafted Adam Shaheen in the second round of the draft, moves that seemingly put Miller in a precarious position heading into Bourbonnais. Not helping Miller’s case is the Lisfranc fracture he suffered last November, which kept him sidelined through OTAs and veteran minicamp in May and June. He’d be a valuable player for the Bears to keep around, but at the same time, training camp could be a perfect storm for Miller to be among the cuts.

“They’re going to cutting it close for training camp,” coach John Fox said of Miller (and Danny Trevathan) in June. “But right now they’re right on target and that’s kind of what we expected all offseason.”

2. What can we expect from Adam Shaheen?

Shaheen was among the bright spots during May and June, hardly looking like someone who played his college ball at Division II Ashland while going against NFL defenders. But those were just shorts-and-helmets practices without any contact, so it’d be premature to project anything about Shaheen off of them. The real test for Shaheen will be when he puts the pads on in Bourbonnais and gets his first experience with the physicality of the NFL after a few years of being head and shoulders — literally — above his competition in college. It’s unlikely Shaheen will live up to his “Baby Gronk” hype in Year 1, but if he handles training camp well, he could be a valuable red zone asset for Mike Glennon as a rookie. 

“You don’t know until you put the pads on,” Shaheen said. “That’s what I’m excited for.”

3. How productive can this unit be?

Between Sims — who had a career high four touchdowns last year with the Miami Dolphins — and Shaheen, the Bears have two new, big targets for an offense that tied for 24th in the NFL with 19 passing touchdowns a year ago. If Miller sticks around, this group would have enviable depth. But even if he doesn’t, the Bears liked what they saw from Brown last year (16 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD in six games). There are fewer questions about the tight ends heading into training camp than the receivers, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Glennon leans on this unit, especially early in the season. 

BearsTalk Podcast: Analyzing Mitch Trubisky's contract as rookies arrive for camp

mitchtrubisky.png
USA TODAY

BearsTalk Podcast: Analyzing Mitch Trubisky's contract as rookies arrive for camp

On Ep. 56 of our BearsTalk Podcast, Chris and JJ discuss Mitch Trubisky’s contract, question marks about the final 53, go over the Vikings off-season with Dawn Mitchell from Fox-9 Minneapolis, and go “Off the Grid” on  JJ’s recent engagement.