Andy and I have been looking at the NFL Lockout and just banging out heads against a wall at almost every turn. Maybe a week ago we had a discussion about who should be running these negotiations (perhaps in conjunction with the special counsel). I argued, being particularly biased towards current Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, that he was the perfect go between for the players and owners. He’s a former player and currently deals with the business side of the NFL and as a guy that knows what owners are looking for. Andy partially agreed (I’ll try not to speak too much for him in case he wants a say here), but it got me thinking. What if we could find some big names currently in the NFL that could fit that mold of a Gene Upshaw, who was a former player that knew the owners fairly well. Currently, I feel the problem is that the people running this show – DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell, and Jeffrey Kessler don’t have enough football knowledge to know both sides and whose interests are not necessarily about getting football back quickly but about promoting their side as hard line as possible
So here is the list of current high level executives who have played in the NFL, even if briefly, and are in pretty high contact with the owners:
Ozzie Newsome – TE Cleveland Browns, GM Baltimore Ravens
Mike Holmgren – QB St. Louis Cardinals, President Cleveland Browns
Mike Reinfeldt – S Houston Oilers, GM Tennessee Titans
Bruce Allen – P Baltimore Colts, GM Washington Redskins
Martin Mayhew – CB Washington Redskins, GM Detroit Lions
Ted Thompson – LB Houston Oilers, GM Green Bay Packers
Now I won’t say this is an all encompassing list, but if I were looking for a semi-autonomous, invested party that is in both parties and interested in getting a deal done, these are the people that would be at the top of the list for me to have in that negotiating room. Most, you’ll notice, are well respected as execs around the league, and a couple are successful players.
There are risks sure. If they were to go in and not tote the players line hard enough they’d be seen as back stabbers, and seeing as they’re currently employed by the NFL owners while players are essentially not it could cause a conflict of interest.
Still, with trust between these two groups at very low point, they need someone whose got a little more interest to build some mutual respect, get the emotions out of the room, and start getting some serious negotiations together and these are the men that I would start with in that regards.