New York Giants

New York Giants Owner John Mara: “If we had extended it into the season, we certainly would’ve got more things that we wanted.”

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New York Giants Owner John Mara: “If we had extended it into the season, we certainly would’ve got more things that we wanted.”
July 26, 2011 – 5:45 am by Eric Schmoldt
When the NFL owners ratified the new collective bargaining agreement, they agreed to a deal that gave them far less than what they were originally aiming for. While they agreed to a better deal than the last one in terms of revenue percentages, they were originally asking for plenty more concessions from the players, most notably an 18-game regular season schedule.
The players remained resolute in their stance that would not even consider an 18-game schedule, so as New York Giants owner John Mara explains, the owners simply backed off of that proposal and saved it for a later date.  Mara says he believes there will be an 18-game schedule at some point, just not in the next few years. He also said in the following interview that the owners could have held out and forced the cancellation of regular season games, and that had they done so, they would have gotten every concession they wanted. Ultimately, Mara says, they collectively chose to not take that draconian measure.

John Mara joined The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York to discuss how exhausting the lockout situation has been now that it’s finally been resolved, feeling concerned at various points in the negotiations process that games might be missed in the 2011 season, the turning point of the negotiations, how this deal is really different than the last one, why the quality of football won’t suffer despite missing the offseason workouts, why the owners backed off the 18-game schedule, how they could have gotten everything they wanted had they taken a more uncompromising stance, why Al Davis abstained from the vote and whether he’ll consider bringing back Plaxico Burress.
Are you exhausted after this whole lockout situation?:
“It has been. It really goes back about two years now that we’ve been involved with this and the last four or five months it was very busy and time-consuming. There were a lot of meetings, a lot of periods of frustration. But in the end I think we came up with a deal that will stand the test of time and it’s going to last for 10 years and I think it’s going to be a very good deal for both the clubs and the players.”
Were there legitimate times when you thought games would be missed?:
“There were several times I would say. After we broke off negotiations in the middle of March, I wondered about whether we’d miss any games or not. I didn’t think that we would at that point, but as the months dragged on and we weren’t really making any progress, I started to think that might be a possibility. … As often happens in any kind of negotiation, particularly in labor negotiations, you don’t really start to make progress until both sides really start to feel the pressure of the calendar and in this case we certainly did.”
What was the turning point?:
“I thought that the real turning point in this whole process was when we met with the players. There was a group of four or five of us and the commissioner with just four or five players and DeMaurice Smith, no lawyers, no advisers, no outside people in the room. This happened in Chicago, I think, in mid-June. … I think once we did that, we started to make some progress. We had a couple of dinners with the players and I thought those were very positive. … We just started to one another at that point instead of at one another.”
How is this deal really different from the previous one?:
“There are a lot of differences. We certainly felt like we made a bad deal back in 2006 and we adjusted some of the percentages of revenues that players will be receiving. I think those adjustments will be good in the  long run because it will allow us to grow our businesses. … The rookie system is going to be quite a bit different, especially at the top of the first round, where those salaries have been cut quite a bit. I think everybody agreed we needed to do something there. … I would’ve liked to have done better on the rookie system but it was the deal we ultimately agreed to. … And there’s certainly a lot of changes in terms of players getting increased injury protection going forward.”
Are you worried the quality of football will be down since teams are now getting a later start?:
“I really don’t think so. We’re all going to have a full training camp. Yes, it’s true that we lost the offseason program and the mini-camps and that will hurt the development of younger players … but I think eventually things will get back to normal and I don’t think it’s going to have a lasting effect.”
Why did the owners back away from the 18-game season?:
“I think we recognized that it was such an important point for them. They got quite emotional about it … and they did not want to hear anything about 18 games. We tried talking to them about it several times and you reach a point in protracted negotiations like this where it’s just time to close a deal and we saw they were not going to move on that. They had moved on some of the other issues that were important to us and we just thought that the right thing to do was to give up on that issue and revisit it sometime in the future. … I still think it will happen at some point in the future, but certainly not in the next few years.”
Do you believe that if the owners decided they wanted to get everything on their agenda and they dragged it into the season, the players would have cracked?:
“I think if we had extended it into the season, we certainly would’ve got more things that we wanted, but I don’t think any of us wanted to do that. You lose so much if you start losing games. You turn the fans off, you take a big hit revenue-wise. It just has such a negative effect on your business that I don’t think any of us wanted to do that.”
Why did Al Davis abstain from voting on the proposed CBA?:
“Well, I think, [laughter] the best way to answer that is because they’re the Raiders and that’s what they do.”
Would you consider bringing back Plaxico Burress?:
“I think that’s something we’re certainly going to talk about and have talked about. … Where that goes, I don’t know.”
Listen to John Mara on ESPN New York here

Tags: John Mara, New York Giants, NFL, NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL Lockout, NFL owners, Oakland Raiders, Plaxico Burress

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