NFLPA: The Best Days of the NFL are Ahead
DeMaurice Smith joins Roger Goodell to talk about the state of the league before the Super Bowl
Just a few months ago, the NFL Commissioner and NFLPA were locked in a battle over the 2020 season. In a season like no other, COVID seems to have brought Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith together.
Smith made a surprise appearance at Goodell’s Super Bowl press conference on Thursday and said that the two sides have never worked better together over the season and believes the best days for the NFL are ahead.
"We've had our dust-ups in the past," a laughing Smith said. "But this season, it really took all of us to get through this and I'm really proud of the partnership we have with the NFL. This year has been, I think across businesses in the country, one of the best of labor and management working together to do something we couldn’t do alone.”
It seems like any tension they had at the beginning of the season over testing, cancelling the preseason and a shortened exhibition schedule is now water under the bridge. Ultimately, the NFL made it through the season without any games being cancelled, although a few were rescheduled. This was largely in part due to tough standards that were negotiated by the union before the season and tough enforcement by the league during the season including the quarantining of players who tested negative but came in contact with teammates who tested positive.
While both sides didn’t want to commit to anything for the 2021 season, it does sound like both sides agree that a virtual offseason, similar to the one held in 2020, will take place this year.
"I think that every one of these guys who have lived in a football world for a very long time saw their teams do a lot of things differently," Smith said. "But let's just put differently to the side. It was smarter. So the fact that you just didn't have guys holed up in a facility for hours on end and just killing time, the fact that we are actually able to do things via teleconference and Skype and Zoom, it's all about being smarter.”
Goodell agreed saying "I think we have learned a great deal. We want to look at the data, look at the information. It's not time to take positions publicly. Virtual is going to be part of our life for the long-term. So I think we'll see more of that."
Smith also addressed the upcoming salary cap which is expected to be significantly lower than 2020 due to the lack of fans and gate revenue during the 2020 season. “We do have a $175 million floor,” said Smith. “Do I think we will be above the floor? I think there’s a decent chance we could be above the floor.”
Both sides have been negotiating the issues since last month. Over the summer a salary cap floor was set at $175 million, although some team officials are saying that they want it closer to $185 million. A lower salary cap would not be good for the players as it will likely mean some of their older or higher paid members will get cut so the team can get their salaries below the cap. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt told reporters this week that a decision on the cap might not be made until hours before the start of the 2021 league year on March 17th.
You can watch the full press conference below with Smith making an appearance at the 41 minute mark.
The Super Bowl will be broadcast on Sunday, February 7th and will kick off from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay at 6:35 PM. For the 21st time, CBS will bring you the game and IBEW technicians will once again be operating the cameras for CBS. This will be the 30th Super Bowl that IBEW members have worked.
“During this NFL season, our technicians and utilities dealt with circumstances that they’ve never had to face before,” Broadcasting & Telecommunications Director Robert Prunn said. “The way our members handled the multiple COVID tests, stadium protocols and their own family issues during this pandemic while still broadcasting amazing shows every week proves how dedicated they are to their craft. The Super Bowl is the showcase event of the year and the hundreds of IBEW members in Tampa will again demonstrate their commitment, talent and dedication to the world.”