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Tags press conference transcript (1 Viewer)


We just concluded two long days of meetings. Last night we went until about 1 a.m., and

this morning we started around 7 a.m. and finished at about 6:59 and 59 seconds before

the 7 p.m. deadline. The membership approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement and

accepted the offer of the Players Association for the six-year extension of the Collective

Bargaining Agreement by a vote of 30 in favor and two voting against.

It was really a tremendous effort by owners across the entire spectrum of the league, no

matter how you define the spectrum – whether it’s in terms of longevity, whether it’s in

terms of big-market, small-market or high-revenue, low-revenue. Everyone came

together after these two full days of discussions and reached a consensus not only on the

Collective Bargaining Agreement, but on some major new revenue-sharing features to

support the ability of all teams to function well under the Collective Bargaining


The consensus was forged really by all 32, but nine teams worked this afternoon to take

two different concepts that had evolved over the last two days and meld it into one

concept. The first concept had been developed in the last two days by the New York Jets

and the New England Patriots, Woody Johnson and Jonathan Kraft. The second concept

had been developed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, particularly Art

Rooney and Ravens President **** Cass. Then over the luncheon hour, three other

owners spoke with me about a concept for putting together the two proposals, the two

different sets of ideas, and a process to take the Jets-Patriots concept and the Ravens-

Steelers concept and blend it into one. Those three owners were John Mara, Jerry

Richardson and Pat Bowlen. Then when we resumed this afternoon, all of those owners

plus Jerry Jones and Arthur Blank played a critical role. We ended up with one single

resolution that brought all of the different ideas together. It was sponsored by the nine

teams that I just mentioned: Giants, Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, Falcons, Panthers,

Broncos, Jets and Cowboys. And that’s what we presented to the membership and

explained it. Once it was all explained, we had the vote and it was adopted without any

changes. The blending of the two proposals into one, which was developed this afternoon

between 3:15 and 6 p.m., was accepted on the basis that it was presented and developed

by those nine teams. In addition to Art Rooney, Dan Rooney was involved in that

process. In addition to Arthur Blank, Rich McKay was involved in that process, plus all

the owners I’ve already mentioned. I’ll be glad to take questions.

Q: Can you discuss the new revenue sharing agreement?

PT: The revenue sharing basically is a commitment of almost $500 million over the first

four years of the deal and then several hundred million additional dollars over the last

two years of the deal. I think the total amount over the life of the deal gets to over $850

or $900 million of incremental revenue sharing to be funded in some significant degree


by the high-revenue clubs. “High-revenue” includes the top five, the next group, six

through 10, and to a lesser degree the clubs who rank 11 through 15. All of those clubs in

differing proportions ended up making the alliance or the commitment to fund the

revenue sharing.

Q: How will those funds be redistributed among the membership?

PT: The lower-revenue teams will draw from that fund. The overall concept was geared

to the idea that when a team spends to the midpoint between the salary cap and cash over

the cap on an average basis, to spend to that level a team should not have to spend more

than a specified percentage of its own revenue. So there is an objective standard in there.

Q: What number, percentage-wise, is fair or equitable?

PT: The target in this concept was 65 percent maximum, as a percentage of your own

revenues. Of course, the players are getting an unprecedented high level of total revenue,

approaching 60 percent of the total.

Q: What will the salary cap be for the 2006 season?

PT: The salary cap for 2006 will $102 million and for 2007 be $109 million.

Q: When will the free agency period begin?

PT: Free agency is going to begin after a 48-hour hiatus, so that clubs can use the

additional funding within this cap to re-sign players rather than release players, if that’s

the way they choose to proceed.

Q: Can you describe some of the other landmark changes that are included in this

new CBA?

PT: There are several major features, a lot of major features. There is a significantly

expanded post-career medical coverage for players. They already have five years postcareer.

There is a healthcare-IRA-type element set aside that the players will get funded

in proportion to the length of their career. It’s quite a significant improvement in benefits.

The franchise player rules basically stay as they are with some minor tweaking. For the

first time a player is tagged and the second time a player is tagged, then in the

eventuality, which is very rare, that a player would be tagged a third time, the structure

has been modified so as to virtually ensure that in the future there would not be any threetime

tags, that players and clubs would be able to work out multi-year agreements,

including signing bonuses, either the first time a player was tagged or the second time a

player was tagged.

Another change is that drafted players in rounds two through seven will have a maximum

contract length of four years. Some clubs have been signing players to five and six-year


contracts. That had become an issue with the Players Association in this negotiation

relative to the concept of free agency after four years. We agreed there would be a

maximum contract length of four years for players drafted in rounds two through seven.

The first round can still be negotiated with longer deals.

Q: Any changes in terms of club disciplinary procedures and forfeiting signing


PT: Yes. There are also provisions in there that modify the ground rules in terms of

forfeiture of signing bonuses. There are also a number of areas that the discipline

provided at the league level for the most part becomes the exclusive form of discipline,

whether its suspension or fines, such as with the drug program and with other areas.

League discipline would become exclusive.

Q: Any changes in the amount of the rookie salary pool?

PT: No. We had a lot of discussions about the rookie pool, but in the end I don’t think

we’ve made any changes.

Q: On the discipline aspect, you’re saying that what Philadelphia did to Terrell

Owens could no longer be an option?

PT: I’m not saying that. I’m saying that in certain areas we’ve modified what teams can

negotiate. In certain other areas, we agreed that league discipline would be exclusive and

that individual club contracts would not be individually negotiated departures from the

league disciplinary pattern. That would not be permitted.

Q: You’ve said all along that this would get done at the 11th hour and 59th minute.

It almost sounds like it was orchestrated.

PT: Do you have another question? Harold Henderson heads our Management Council

and he had been hearing me say for several years that this would get done at the 11th

hour and 59th minute. Frequently over dinner he’d say, “11th hour and 59th minute

before what?” And I would say, “I don’t know. It’s just going to be at the 11th hour and

the 59th minute.”

Then the other night on Sunday when we had the second break off of negotiations and we

were able to talk to Gene Upshaw late at night that his proposal would be presented, I

think we got it done after 11 p.m. Then Harold finally said to me, “Now I know what you

mean when you talk about the 11th hour and the 59th minute. We’re now at the 11th hour

and the 24th minute.” So I say, “Wait until we get to Dallas. If we have more than 60

seconds to spare, it will be a miracle.” And that’s the way it turned out.

Q: How important is this new agreement to game of football and the league?


PT: I think it is important. Time will tell how important it is, but it was certainly an

opportunity to continue building what we’ve been building. I think it’s great for the fans.

I think the quality of the game is at a tremendous level. The spread of talent around the

league, the ability of teams to become competitive relatively quickly and to do what

Marvin Lewis has done and what other coaches have done, it’s a great thing. This

preserves all of that. It continues with the elements that we have with the Players

Association on the shared cost of constructing new stadiums. It continues a lot of our

initiatives, Youth Football and other areas. So I think it’s a very positive thing for the

fans and the league generally even though it’s a stretch from a financial standpoint for

many, many teams in terms of the cost.

Q: Does this agreement affect the G-3 funding program for new stadiums?

PT: There are some changes in the G-3 funding program, yes. Basically it’s an


Q: Are debts of some of the high-revenue teams addressed in this agreement?

PT: Not in any way that I could explain right now. We didn’t get to the point of

micromanaging the way teams operate. We set targets in terms of what should be a

reasonable target that a club would have to spend on players to be competitive relative to

its own revenues. Once we had that target agreed to, then we did a calculation, or

thousands of calculations. Once you translated that target and tried to figure out how it

would play out over the next six seasons, the question was, “What is the resulting

revenue-sharing obligation that had to be funded?” And that is what we funded.

But we didn’t get into micromanaging what teams do in order to generate revenue or to

figure out how to net out the costs of stadium construction, except in some of the

structural elements of the agreement. There is a concept of TFR, which takes account of

stadium construction costs, there’s a G-3 credit that takes account of that, but we didn’t

micromanage what teams do. We want to have the right incentives for teams at every

level, the right support through the league and to give great incentives for low-revenue

teams to pick their revenue up, be it through new stadiums or other things. But it’s not


Q: Beforehand, you had thought that revenue sharing did not necessarily have to be

a part of this deal, but it is now part of the package. Can you discuss that?

PT: I always thought it would be part of the package. That was always my expectation.

Q: How pleased are you that this is done?

PT: I’m pleased, and more than pleased, I’m relieved.


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