WBEZ | National Football League http://www.wbez.org/tags/national-football-league Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Replacements to blow the whistle for the NFL http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-08/replacements-blow-whistle-nfl-102077 <p><p>The Chicago Bears will see some unfamiliar faces on the field when the season starts Sunday, September 9th. That&#39;s becasue the labor strife between the National Football League and its referees will continue into the regular season.&nbsp;In a memo sent to all 32 NFL teams by&nbsp;the league&#39;s executive vice president for football operations, the NFL warned that replacement refs will be used in the first week of the 2012 season.&nbsp;</p><ul><li><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/NFL%20Memo%20from%20Ray%20Anderson.pdf">NFL Memo from VP Ray Anderson to teams&nbsp;</a><br />&nbsp;</li></ul><p>The NFL has been using replacement refs in pre-season games and training camps, with regular refs locked-out.&nbsp;The league believes they have sufficiently trained these replacement officials in such a way as to let them move forward without the regular referees:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Replacement%20referees%20will%20continue%20into%20the%20regular%20season.%20Alan%20Diaz.jpg" style="height: 395px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Replacement referees will continue into the regular NFL season. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)" /></div><p><em>The replacements have undergone extensive training and evaluation, and have shown steady improvement during the preseason. We will continue the training with each crew and they will work as much of the regular season as necessary. The replacement officials are dedicated and enthusiastic, have worked very hard to improve, and have persevered despite the attacks on their qualifications and performance. We are all grateful for their service to the NFL.</em></p><p>The players, coaches and staff of all the NFL teams have been instructed to not talk about the dispute, but that&nbsp;<a href="http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8301987/minnesota-vikings-chris-kluwe-criticizes-replacement-officials">hasn&#39;t stopped everyone from speaking out</a>&nbsp;against the temporary refs. And with safety in mind, the players union is now contemplating some action. NFL Players Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith voiced his concerns in an interview with&nbsp;<a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/jim_trotter/08/28/smith/index.html#ixzz24xRF1rfR">S.I.com</a>&nbsp;the day before the memo came out:</p><p><em>Obviously the game is going to speed up, the demand on the referees increase, the physical strain on our players&rsquo; increases exponentially, and you&#39;re facing a situation where the league has made an affirmative decision to remove the people that we consider to be the first responders to safety on the field. It&#39;s rather obvious that the only people on the field who are not competing, who remain objective to enforce the rules, to ensure that the players remain safe, are the referees.</em></p><p>Jerry Markbreit, a former NFL Referee with 35 years of experience and 23 in the league, said safety is a huge concern for him.&nbsp;He was employed by the league to train referees &mdash; until the lock-out. Markbreit said he and nine others in the same position &ldquo;have been fired&rdquo; since they didn&rsquo;t want to cooperate by training &ldquo;scabs.&rdquo;</p><p>The replacement refs, Markbreit said, &quot;will not be able to recognize and control the game.&quot; Watching the pre-season games he said he saw several penalties missed &mdash; hits on quarterbacks and helmets to chests. &ldquo;I saw a quarterback tackled around the neck and slammed to the ground,&rdquo; he said. Markbreit doesn&rsquo;t believe the replacements referees will be able to control players who want to take advantage of the situation once the regular season gets underway; the pre-season, he said, is much less intense than what we&rsquo;ll see next Wednesday when the NFL kicks off the year.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jerry%20Markbreit%20Mark%20Lenniham.jpg" style="height: 374px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Former NFL referee Jerry Markbreit is concerned about players' safety with replacement refs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)" />Markbreit is also miffed that the league hasn&#39;t had a negotiating session since July 27th. &ldquo;You think the league would be willing to negotiate, but they really are not willing to sit down and change their original offer.&rdquo; Markbreit said issues under discussion include pensions, salary, adding additional referees and making a small group of referees full-time. The NFL said in its memo that &ldquo;officials continue to insist on larger overall pay increases, as well as greater amounts devoted for non-game compensation, than we consider reasonable in light of economic developments of recent years and compensation trends for other leagues and team employees.&rdquo;</div><p><br />The union looks at the addition of 20 rookie referees as a quick way to dilute quality and the shared earnings of 120 present members. The league says they want to inject more officials into the league and give more rest to some crews, as well as the ability to replace refs. &ldquo;One of our key goals in this negotiation is to enhance our ability to recruit, train, and replace officials who are not performing adequately,&rdquo; the league said.</p><p>But the issue of pensions seems to be a real sticking point, with the NFL wanting to freeze and eventually end the present plan for one that is contribution-based.</p><p>The perception that NFL refs only work three hours every week for 20 weeks is erroneous in Markbreit&rsquo;s eyes. &ldquo;This is a full-time job for seven months of the year masquerading as a part time job,&rdquo; he said. The referees go to clinics and training camps, view videos, take exams and spend a lot of time on the phone. &ldquo;It takes over your life,&rdquo; said Markbreit.</p><p>The player&rsquo;s union can threaten to side with the regular referees and honor the picket line. That seems unlikely since it would be hard for them to give up their hefty pay checks. It is a matter of wait and see, but for Jerry Markbreit the situation is quite upsetting. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a crying shame that the league is taking this stance,&quot; he said. &quot;It is just not right.&rdquo;</p><p>For now, the ball is, so to speak, in the NFL&rsquo;s hands.</p></p> Fri, 31 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-08/replacements-blow-whistle-nfl-102077 NFL sued over suicide of former Bears player http://www.wbez.org/story/nfl-sued-over-suicide-former-bears-player-96677 <p><p>Family members of Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bears player, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL. Duerson played safety for the Bears in the 1980s, including the Bears Super Bowl-winning season. He committed suicide last year.</p><p>Now his family is suing because they say Duerson was depressed, caused by head trauma suffered during his professional football career.</p><p>"If the NFL did something for Dave Duerson during his retirement rather than provide him with false information, he likely would not have committed suicide," said William T. Gibbs, an attorney representing Duerson’s family.</p><p>The lawsuit alleges the NFL knew about the harmful effects of poorly managed concussions.</p><p>"The NFL sets up a committee to say there’s no way that there could be later in life cognitive or mental health issues as a result of repetitive head trauma in the face of hundreds of articles saying exactly the opposite," said Gibbs.</p><p>Attorneys said that during Duerson's 11-year career in the NFL he sustained at least three documented concussive brain traumas and numerous unreported concussions.</p><p>Researchers at Boston University determined from postmortem analysis of Duerson's brain that he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated brain trauma.</p><p>The NFL said in a statement it hasn't yet seen the lawsuit. Riddell Sports Group is also named in the lawsuit, which claims the company failed to warn that its helmets would not prevent concussion-caused CTE.</p></p> Thu, 23 Feb 2012 23:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/nfl-sued-over-suicide-former-bears-player-96677 Bears video chat: Sun-Times Bears Writer Neil Hayes breaks down (the missing) mini-camp http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-06-06/bears-video-chat-sun-times-bears-writer-neil-hayes-breaks-down-missi <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-06/103213846.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you're a hard core football fan, you know that the Bears were supposed to be finishing up their first mini-camp by now. But instead there is a lockout, so the Halas Hall practice fields are empty.</p><p>The missing off-season mini-camp serves as a reminder that the NFL 2011/12 season is quickly approaching - and&nbsp; the labor dispute is showing no signs of resolving soon.</p><p>So fans are now wondering aloud about skipping training camp, eliminating pre-season football and (gasp), shortening the regular season.</p><p>What can we expect from football this summer?</p><p>Neil Hayes is the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/hayes/index.html">Sun-Times Bears beat writer</a>. He was in studio Monday talking with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/848"><em>Eight Forty-Eight </em></a>about the ongoing labor dispute, which gave me a chance to talk shop with one of Chicago's best sports writers.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="281" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/24731519?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" width="500"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-06-06/bears-video-chat-sun-times-bears-writer-neil-hayes-breaks-down-missi Secret meetings near Chicago about NFL lockout http://www.wbez.org/story/secret-meetings-near-chicago-about-nfl-lockout-87367 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2010-November/2010-11-04/cutler down resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The fight between the NFL and the player's union heads to a federal court in St. Louis on Friday. League officials, owners and players concluded three days of secret talks near Chicago Thursday. But information is trickling out.</p><p>An anonymous source tells The Associated Press various issues were on the table but to "characterize it as progress might not be accurate."</p><p>The dispute continues to be about finding a way to split up the NFL revenue between players, owners and the league.&nbsp; These secret meetings may be signs of a new collective bargaining agreement that could end the nearly three month lockout. &nbsp;</p><p>On Friday, the NFL and its players head to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis for a hearing.&nbsp; If a ruling comes and the NFL wins, the lockout will continue and pressure will be on the players. That could jeopardize the start of this year's football season. If the players win, the lockout will end but the litigation won't.</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/secret-meetings-near-chicago-about-nfl-lockout-87367 The sooner the Bears lose, the better http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/sooner-bears-lose-better <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP101226041784.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="341" width="512" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-13/AP101226041784.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p>As the Bears get set to host the Seattle Seahawks in their divisional playoff this Sunday, Chicagoans are starting to come together like they did when the Blackhawks glided toward hockey&rsquo;s Stanley Cup last spring.<br /><br />The excitement brings to mind some words of a 19th century German philosopher: &ldquo;Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.&rdquo;<br /><br />If religion is our opium, as Marx put it, then Chicago&rsquo;s National Football League franchise is our crack cocaine.<br /><br />More than three years since the economy began to collapse, the Chicago area&rsquo;s unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent. Foreclosure filings are rising again. Our wages are anemic. Illinois lawmakers are raising our taxes. <br /><br />Gee, though, won&rsquo;t it be great if Julius Peppers knocks Matt Hasselbeck on his ass this Sunday?<br /><br />We have no connection to these multimillionaire gladiators, yet a few of us are already donning Bears jerseys. It&rsquo;s the only show of Chicago solidarity we can imagine.<br /><br />Some of us will even put money on the team, regardless of the odds. We might be a couple months behind on rent. But Devin Hester could go all the way!<br /><br />On Sunday, finally, we&rsquo;ll spend hours and hours on a couch, gazing into a liquid crystal display. We&rsquo;ll cheer now and then, but the experience will be entirely passive.<br /><br />Then, if the Bears win, the &ldquo;news&rdquo; coverage will crowd out most meaningful Chicago journalism for days. The coverage will quickly turn into hype about the next playoff game. And our addiction cycle will continue on.<br /><br />We could be smoking this rock until at least February 6, the sacred day known as &ldquo;Super Bowl Sunday.&rdquo;<br /><br />Marx may have been wrong about abolishing religion. But the sooner the Bears flame out, the sooner Chicagoans can build some solidarity for things that count.</p><p>*<em>This post was edited from its original state to remove a characterization of a mayoral candidate</em>.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 20:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/sooner-bears-lose-better Favre To Be Fined For Not Cooperating With 'Sexting' Investigation http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/favre-be-fined-not-cooperating-sexting-investigation <p><p>Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has been fined $50,000 by the National Football League for not cooperating with its investigation into allegations that he texted lewd messages and photos of himself to New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger (two years ago, when Favre was playing for the Jets), the Associated Press reports.</p><p><a href="http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d81d4b582/article/favre-will-be-fined-for-sterger-incident-in-next-two-days?module=HP_headlines" target="_blank">At NFL.com,</a> correspondent Jason La Canfora notes that Favre will not be suspended for his actions.</p><p>In a statement, the AP adds, "the NFL says Commissioner Roger Goodell 'could not conclude' that Favre violated the league's personal conduct policy based on the evidence currently available." But, Goodell did decide that Favre wasn't candid during the investigation.</p><p>The oft-retired Favre is scheduled to play what could be his last game on Sunday in Detroit against the Lions.</p><p><strong>Update at 1:26 p.m. ET. </strong>In Minneapolis, <a href="http://www.startribune.com/sports/vikings/blogs/112610824.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aU1yDEmP:QMDCinchO7DU" target="_blank">the <em>Star Tribune </em>has posted</a> the entire statement from the NFL. It reads, in part:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"In reviewing the matter, the sole focus was on whether there was a violation of league policies regarding conduct in the workplace.  NFL policies do not extend to private conduct or make judgments about the appropriateness of personal relationships, except where that conduct or those relationships raise issues under the law or league policies. ...</p><p>"On the basis of the evidence currently available to him, Commissioner Goodell could not conclude that Favre violated league policies relating to workplace conduct. The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger. The review found no evidence to contradict the statements of both Favre and Sterger that they never met in person, nor was there anything to suggest that Sterger engaged in any inappropriate conduct. ...</p><p>"However, Commissioner Goodell also determined that Favre was not candid in several respects during the investigation, resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, Sterger, and the NFL. The commissioner notified Favre that he has been fined $50,000 for his failure to cooperate with the investigation in a forthcoming manner. Commissioner Goodell stated to Favre that if he had found a violation of the league’s workplace conduct policies, he would have imposed a substantially higher level of discipline."</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1293647862?&gn=Favre+To+Be+Fined+For+Not+Cooperating+With+%27Sexting%27+Investigation&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+Football+League,Brett+Favre,National+News,Sports,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=132438946&c7=1001&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1001&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20101229&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=132439281,132439273,127602855,127602530,103943429,132034763,128010892,127605625,127602855,126926055,103943429,132405975,127605625,127602855,127602530,103943429,132433662,127602446,103943429,132433317,132433315,132433313,127605625,127602855,103943429,127088640,127088640,132416724,132416598,128644960,127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 29 Dec 2010 12:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/favre-be-fined-not-cooperating-sexting-investigation