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Smith asks to see NFL finances

The new head of the NFL Players Assn. wants the league to open its financial books to prove it can't offer a bigger slice of the pie.

April 25, 2009|Sam Farmer

NEW YORK — DeMaurice Smith doesn't use these exact words, but the union head's message to NFL owners is clear:

Show me the money.

The NFL Players Assn., which elected Smith as its new executive director earlier this year, wants the league to open its financial books to prove it can't offer a bigger slice of the pie. Team owners -- who don't even share that information among themselves -- are staunchly resistant to doing so.

"What company in America doesn't engage in that type of information share when they want to make a deal?" said Smith, who met with about 30 members of the media Friday.

The position of the NFL, which soon will enter negotiations with the union over a new collective bargaining agreement, is the union already knows what it needs to know about the finances to effectively bargain, and that the league isn't going to allow a "fishing expedition" simply to appease the NFLPA.

It was the first news conference for Smith, 45, an attorney who has yet to leave his job at Washington, D.C.-based Patton Boggs and also has yet to work out his own contract with the union.

In the coming days, he plans to make trips to New Orleans, Houston and Dallas to talk with players, and he said he's ready to start negotiations with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Informed later of that, Goodell said: "I don't mean to be a smart aleck, but it's not when you start but when you finish."

Vick has to wait

In his annual meeting with national sports editors Friday, Goodell addressed the Michael Vick situation, basically echoing what he said recently about the disgraced quarterback's chances of resuming his career.

"When he's finished his legal involvements, then I will sit down and meet with him, I will meet with his representatives, we'll talk to other professionals, and we'll make an evaluation of where we think he is," Goodell said. "Has he learned from this experience? Does he recognize the horrific mistake he made? Is he prepared to show genuine remorse, and, most importantly, be a positive influence going forward?"

London's super idea

Goodell denied a BBC report that the league was considering playing a future Super Bowl in London, even with the apparent growing popularity of NFL football overseas.

In the report, the British network quotes Frank Supovitz, the league's vice president of events, saying of a London Super Bowl: "We've spoken on what it would take to host and for us to bring it over. The city has all the facilities needed, and in great quantity."

In later clarifying those remarks, Goodell said officials from London asked about the Super Bowl application process and were provided general information by the league but that no significant talks have taken place.

"We have never looked at London or Mexico City as a site," he said.

Getting testy

Earlier this month, the website NFLDraftBible.com erroneously reported that USC linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews failed league-administered steroids tests at the scouting combine. The league denied the report, as did the players, and the website eventually retracted it and issued an apology.

Cushing, the only USC player among the nine draft invitees, said Friday that he doesn't believe the story will affect his stock when teams choose today.

"Any kind of rumor that tarnishes your name will make you angry," he said. "You work hard for 22 years, and someone who's never played football probably in their life just writes something on their website and takes that away from you. I'm glad it's cleared up now. I knew it would be. And, hopefully, there won't be any consequences."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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