Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown drew some headlines earlier this week when said all that union cared about was money and wasn't interested in discussing the other issues facing the game. The NFL's lead negotiator Jeff Pash, who was also on our call with Roger Goodell, was asked his thoughts on what Brown said. Basically, he agreed.
"I don't know if many owners around the league feel [the same way] but I think Mike was reflecting what he heard in the mediation session. Late Friday afternoon in responding to the comprehensive proposal we had made to them, they didn't want to talk about anything other than what the cap numbers were. They didn't want to talk about the healthy and safety improvements. They didn't want to talk about the rookie system. They didn't want to talk about benefits. They didn't want to talk about improved pensions for retired players. They didn't want to talk about the drug program or the steroid program. They didn't want to talk about disciplinary matters. The only thing they wanted to talk about was the cap number."
My reaction is two pronged here. First... no kidding! The split of money is the major issue which precipitated this whole dispute. All of those issues, while important, are all peripheral. There would be no lockout or decertification if this dispute were about safety or benefits for retired players. So, to say that the players didn't want to talk about anything but money is mostly just saying that they probably didn't think there was a point in laboring over these peripheral issues while the sides were so far apart on the meat of the deal.
However, Pash's statement does also reveal that the players have been somewhat disingenuous.
NFLPA (or whatever it is now) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has said a number or times, including right after the union decertified, that the players number one priority is health and safety. That's simply not true. Like I've said before, you don't decertify your union over that and if indeed it was their #1 priority, they wouldn't have refused to even discuss the issue with the owners. Their #1 priority is clearly money, which is totally understandable. After all, the owners are no different. So why act like it's not true?