|While push was coming to shove in labor negotiations, Robert Kraft was overseas. (Bill Brett/File/The Boston Globe)|
Kraft’s pass on talks disappointing to Light
MARCO ISLAND, Fla. — In the past few days, NFL Players Association representatives have mentioned on several occasions that while they had numerous player leaders on hand in Washington for labor negotiations, the league did not have owners at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services building in nearly the same numbers.
In the eyes of the NFLPA, one owner was conspicuously absent during the final week of talks: Robert Kraft.
Kraft is one of the 10 owners who serve on the league’s Labor Committee, and while his nine colleagues were in Washington in the days leading up to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, Kraft was on a trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and other business leaders.
Patriots player representative Matt Light expressed disappointment yesterday at the players’ annual meetings when asked about Kraft’s absence.
“No doubt, 100 percent. I’m not going to lie to you,’’ Light said. “We had people in that room that could get a deal done at any point. Do I know how they’re structured within the league? No, I have no clue.
“But I can tell you one thing: [league negotiators] didn’t seem to have the ability to do any of that when they had to leave the room.
“If it was me, I would have every one of my guys in those seats making sure that we had one voice and we could get a deal done.’’
Kraft did receive frequent updates on what was happening while he was gone, and would have left the trade mission to join talks if summoned by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Players respond Players yesterday responded to the letter Goodell sent earlier in the week via a letter signed by the 11-member NFLPA executive committee and addressed to the commissioner.
The three-plus-page letter began, “We start by reminding you that we were there at the negotiations and know the truth about what happened, which ultimately led the players to renounce the NFLPA’s status as the collective bargaining representative of NFL players.’’
They went on to write that they would “let the facts speak for themselves.’’
What followed were 14 bullet points, many outlining the financial figures that were included in the league’s final proposal on March 11, and their views on the statements the NFL has made since the union decertified and owners locked players out.
Angered that Goodell’s letter urged players to speak with their “union’’ — even though the NFLPA is currently a trade association — the letter reminded the commissioner that the NFLPA no longer has “the authority to collectively bargain on behalf of the NFL players’’ and that if the league desires to discuss a settlement, it should contact the players’ class counsel.
On their own During the lockout, players are on their own regarding staying in shape. Under normal circumstances, offseason workout programs would have begun already, and currently, Light said, there are no plans for Patriots players to organize workouts.
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys, and guys are doing their own thing, some guys are at home, a lot of guys are away in the offseason,’’ he said. “They’re all professionals, they all know how to maintain themselves, and there’s no need for an organized workout.
“Those guys that are in Foxborough know who’s in Foxborough and they all get together and talk about where they’re going to work out and there’s communication.’’
Shouldering load Light and Patriots alternate player rep Alge Crumpler are both rehabbing from shoulder surgeries.
Crumpler underwent major surgery on his left shoulder, getting the labrum and rotator cuff fixed. Light had a less-serious procedure, having his right shoulder cleaned out.
The free agent-to-be is still in a sling and will be for a couple more weeks, but he already has started rehab.