On the other side, for those who haven't read it, is the class action complaint filed on Friday by the National Football League players (among those named: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Payton Manning and homegrown Aggie Von Miller, who's yet to be drafted) presently locked out by the team owners in their ongoing labor dispute. Which is relevant this morning given one Friend of Unfair Park's suggested morning read: this Sports Illustrated story by Jim Trotter, which documents how discussions between the players and owners broke down earlier this month. At the center, of course, was none other than Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
The story begins in downtown D.C. on March 2, at the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service HQ. One one side were the 10 owners who make up the league's labor committee; on the other, reps from the National Football League Players Association's executive committee. It was the day before the collective bargaining agreement was set to expire. Owners were invited to speak first. You Know Who began:
Jerry Jones, never one to pass up center stage, tried to lighten the mood by talking of his upbringing and the business acumen that led to his purchase of the Cowboys 22 years ago. The tenor changed when he began discussing how two years of negotiations had failed to bring the sides closer. What he said next, with arched eyebrows, helped steer the situation past the point of no return.
"I don't think we've got your attention," Jones said to the players, several of whom recounted the incident to SI. "You clearly don't understand what we're saying, and we're not hearing what you're saying. So I guess we're going to have to show you to get your attention."
Jones tapped his fists together for emphasis -- the players interpreted it as a sign that a lockout was coming -- then stood and walked toward the door. As he reached the end of the table, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, another labor hawk, began to rise, but Robert Kraft of the Patriots, who was sitting next to him, put a hand on Richardson's forearm and kept him from going.
If Jones's intention was to intimidate the players, he failed. "I think everybody in the room thought it was overly dramatic, almost hilarious," one player said. "It was like a Jerry Maguire moment. You know, 'I'm leaving. Who's coming with me?' I know it didn't scare any of us."