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

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'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.

Hall of Fame to honor Butkus, Dent, Hampton, Sayers at Bears-Vikings game

Hall of Fame to honor Butkus, Dent, Hampton, Sayers at Bears-Vikings game

It will be a special evening for a handful of legendary Bears on Monday night.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will honor Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Gale Sayers with a Ring of Excellence in a halftime presentation during the Bears-Vikings game at Soldier Field.

The Ring of Excellence is one of three symbols that represents Pro Football Hall of Fame status. The Gold Jacket, the Bronzed Bust and the Ring of Excellence will all be on display during the presentation.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Each former Bear will wear their Gold Jacket and the four Bronzed Busts will be temporarily removed from the Hall of Fame for the ceremony.

Monday marks the second of three seasons in which the Ring of Excellence will be presented to the Hall of Famers.

Check out photos (provided by the Chicago Bears) of each ring below:

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Call it variations on a theme. The Bears on Monday night will face not only the Minnesota Vikings, but also Sam Bradford, the latest quarterback opponent that hints at possibilities in the Bears’ own future far beyond what was once the norm.

That norm is what can reasonably be expected from a new quarterback, one coming into a new system, new environment, even a new league, and having near-immediate success. Quarterback changes can involve upheaval of staff, personnel and even franchise identity, as the Bears can confirm based on their last eight years with Jay Cutler.

The experiences in Dallas, Minnesota and Philadelphia point to the kinds of quarterback transitions the Bears may be in search of after the 2016 season.

Bradford arrived in Minnesota via trade just eight days before the season opener, yet has proceeded to post the best results of his career: for completion percentage (67.5), interception percentage (0.6 percent; 7 TD’s vs. 1 INT), yards per attempt (7.4) and rating (100.3, vs. a previous best of 90.9).

More important, without the Vikings’ starting left tackle (Matt Kalil) and running back (Adrian Peterson), Bradford has the Vikings leading the NFC North and tied for the NFC lead at 5-1.

“[The Vikings] had the misfortune of losing their quarterback, they go out and make a bold move to get him and they haven’t missed a beat offensively,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He’s been getting better and better.”

This all holds particular relevance for the Bears, who saw Brian Hoyer step in and deliver four straight 300-yard passing games, something he’d never done in his career and no quarterback in Bears franchise history had done. Cutler’s personal best was two straight, for purposes of comparison.

The Bears are expected to have a new quarterback in some form or other next year. In the meantime they have been victimized by two rookie quarterbacks already this season (Carson Wentz, Philadelphia, and Dak Prescott, Dallas). The experience of Bradford, Prescott and Wentz, all new in 2017 to their situations, suggests chances of dramatic improvement over the Bears’ recent history with Cutler, for example.

“A good quarterback can influence the guys and make guys around him better,” Wentz said. “So it’s one of those things where the quarterback usually gets too much credit and too much of the blame as well. It’s just kind of the nature of the position.”

Prescott and Wentz were 2016 draft choices and had offseasons and training camps with their respective teams. Bradford had none of that, yet began his year throwing 130 passes without an interception.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

How that happens may be illustrative for the 2017 Bears. The Vikings traded for Bradford, a one-time starter for the Rams and Eagles. But because of the late-offseason timing of the deal, necessitated by the season-ending leg injury for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford had to be eased into the new offense.

“I think that’s honestly one of the bonuses of coming during the regular season,” Bradford said on Thursday. “Obviously it would’ve been nice to have some practices in training camp. But once you get into the regular season, it’s not like you have the whole playbook in each game plan. Each game plan is very specific for that week’s opponent, so it’s considerably less than would be in your training-camp installs.

“So I think that helped a little bit. But as far as it being cut down, the volume wasn’t so much cut down as how the plays were called, naming some concepts with some things I was familiar with. That really helped me.”