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Joe D appeals for retired players

NFL players who played before 1993 receive significantly less benefits than those who played after. Bills Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure makes an appeal for both sides in the NFL labor dispute to settle their differences and funnel better benefits to older retired players.

Current players no longer have to deal with the following: 1) AstroTurf 2) the “wedge” 3) head slap 4) head to head contact 5) hits to the quarterback 6) “bump and run” 7) chop block 8 ) horse collar and neck tie tackles 9) contact for the long snapper 10) 4-6 weeks of “doubles” in training camp…w/pads 11) $99.00 per week total for preseason, training, and games 12) $1,500.00 to the winner of the Pro Bowl … loser got $1,250.00 13) No compensation for use of image.

I am honored to be a Pro Football Hall of Famer, class of 2003. At the inductions every year I get to enjoy the company of the great players of the game. Some don’t even get $200.00 per month in their pensions. We have a fund for destitute Hall of Famers. This is wrong. ... Help us. We certainly helped owners and player alike. The league was built on our backs. With 9 Billion + dollars……… figure it out. Here's a link to DeLamielleure's letter, posted on the NFL alumni Fourth and Goal Unites website:

---Mark Gaughan



Wilson receives WWII honor

NEW ORLEANS -- Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. is not attending the NFL meetings this week, but he was honored Monday night as one of five American Spirit Awards recipients by the National World War II Museum here.

Joining Wilson as honorees were New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams, Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford and San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos.

Wilson, 92, enlisted in the Navy during World War II and had tours of duty in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Wilson is well-represented at the meetings by not chief operating officer Russ Brandon, executive vice president Mary Owen, treasurer Jeff Littmann, senior vice president Jim Overdorf, general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey.

---Allen Wilson

The Road to the Draft: LB Martez Wilson


Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois

6-foot-4, 250 pounds
Draft projection: early second round
Lowdown: Wilson is the top man in a weak inside linebacker class. He’s likely to be gone early in the second round, which makes him a potential target for the Bills at No. 34. Wilson is solid. He had 105 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks as a junior in 2010. He had a herniated disk in his neck in 2009 and played only one game that season. His first two years at Illinois, he played outside linebacker with only mediocre results. He had five sacks and eight tackles for loss in two seasons before switching inside.

Quote: "The Big Ten is more of a running conference. They run the ball a lot in the NFL as well, so I think that was one of the biggest things that helped me, learning how to take on blocks, just learning to come downhill and attack the running back and things of that nature. We had some pro-style offenses, a majority of them spread. I think that was an advantage too, there's a lot of pro-style offenses in the NFL, and I think that was two of the main things that helped me."

---Mark Gaughan

Pash to players: Come back to negotiating table

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL's chief counsel and point man in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement held court at the owners meetings Monday.

Jeff Pash made a plea to the players to resume CBA talks. There has been little communication between the NFL and players since they failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement after 16 days of federally mediated discussions ended on March 11. 

Both sides said Monday they are willing to return to the bargaining table, but with strings attached.

The players don't want to negotiate with Pash and NFL outside counsel Bob Batterman. They prefer to deal directly with the owners. Pash has no problem with that.

"The people who are writing the checks and the people who are cashing the checks should be at the table together,'' Pash said in a large ballroom at the Roosevelt Hotel. "Let’s have decision-makers at the table together.''

Meanwhile, DeMaurice Smith, who was the NFLPA's executive director before it decertified, sent a letter to the NFL on Monday saying the league can contact NFLPA class counsel since the now-defunct union can’t legally represent itself as a bargaining unit.

However, the NFL said refuses to acknowledge that the union has dissolved even though the former NFLPA now calls itself a trade association. The league also will only negotiate with the association's executive board unless the board says it’s a union bargaining for its players.

"There is going to be an agreement with the union. There is no question about that,'' Pash said. "There is going to be a labor agreement. We don’t accept that the Union has ‘decertified’ or something like that. We don’t accept that, we don’t believe that it has taken place. We believe that is a tactical move by the NFLPA. We believe they are continuing to function as a labor organization. We believe they intend to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with us. And we think we should get over the falderal and get to it.''

With both sides saying they will only talk to certain people on each side, the signs that negotiations will resume soon don't look too good. The players and owners might not return to the table until a federal judge in Minnesota presides over a hearing on April 6 to rule on the players' lawsuit that the owners violated anti-trust laws by locking them out.

---Allen Wilson

Owners counter players' lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS -- You had to figure the owners wouldn't take the players filing a lawsuit against them lying down.

Responding to the now-decertified NFL Players Association seeking to block the locking out, the owners are requesting that a federal judge not lift the lockout. They filed the motion in the same federal court in Minnesota where the players' lawsuit is scheduled to be heard on April 6.

The owners want to put a hold on the players' class-action suit until the National Labor Relations Board rules on the owners' complaint that the NFLPA's decertification is a sham and was done only as a tactic to sue them.

The owners feel if the NLRB declares that the players' union still exists it would strengthen their case against the players in federal court.

---Allen Wilson 

Week 1 schedule on hold

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL usually releases its "Kickoff Weekend'' schedule of primetime games during the annual spring owners meetings. But with more pressing matters demanding its attention, the league is not ready to announce season-opening matchups.

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, the NFL hasn't begun planning for the Thursday night game that opens the season or the festivities (like the pre-game concert featuring a big-name musical artist) that surrounds it.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league still plans to release the full 2011 schedule in mid-April.

---Allen Wilson


Compensatory picks delayed

NEW ORLEANS -- The announcment of compensatory picks, a staple at the NFL's annual spring owners meetings, won't happen this week. No reason for the delay was given, though a league spokesman said the picks could be released sometime next week.

Compensatory picks are awarded at the end of Rounds 3 through 7 to teams that lost more qualifying free agents than they gained the previous year. Unlike regular draft picks, compensatories can't be traded.

The Bills have not received any compensatory picks the past two years.

---Allen Wilson 

The Road to the Draft: DE Robert Quinn


Robert Quinn, North Carolina
6-foot-5, 265 pounds
Draft projection: first round

Lowdown: Quinn might be a top-five pick if he had not missed the entire 2010 season due to the North Carolina agent scandal. He was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for accepting $5,600 in benefits, including two diamond watches. As it is, he probably will be gone by the 12th pick. In 2009, he had 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He’s probably better suited to a 4-3 defense. Quinn has the rare ability to dip low, get under the offensive tackle and make a speed move around the edge. It would have been much better for NFL scouts to see him one more season. In 2009, six of his 11 sacks came in two games against weaker teams (Duke and Virginia). … Quinn also had surgery to remove a brain tumor five years ago, while in high school. He has had no problem since the surgery.

Quote: “The tumor really made me appreciate just the little things in life. Don't take anything for granted. Live life to the fullest. And the suspension really made me mature and watch the people who come around me, (see) if they're really in the best interest for me or what I can do for them or what they want from me. So really just watch my surroundings or people I bring around me.”

---Mark Gaughan

Greetings from the NFL owners meetings

NEW ORLEANS -- We have arrived for the owners meetings, which kickoff Monday. The owners have a lot of business matters and rules proposals to go over, but the labor situation will be the dominant theme over the next two days.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will address the media Monday, and it will be interesting to hear what he has to say about sending a letter to the NFL's 1,900 players that spelled out the NFL's proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement. He also urged the players to push the union to accept the offer.

The problem is, the NFL Players Association technically no longer exists. It decertified after the CBA negotiations ended two weeks ago and because a trade association. But the NFL refuses to acknowledge that, which doesn't make the players happy.

We also expect to run into Bills GM Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey at some point. I'll be sitting down with Gailey at the NFL coaches breakfast on Tuesday.

Keep it locked here on the Billboard blog for news and other tidbits from the meetings.

---Allen Wilson

The Road to the Draft: CB Kendric Burney


Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina

5-foot-9, 186 pounds

Draft projection: fourth or fifth round

Lowdown: Burney projects as a nickel or dime cornerback in the pros. He plays better than he tests. He made 44 starts in his Tar Heels career and had 11 interceptions. He had to sit out the first six games of the 2010 season for receiving improper benefits. He wound up with two interceptions in six games. In 2009 he had five INTs and was first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference. He could be a value pick for any team, like the Bills, looking for cornerback depth on the third day. He didn't run well at the combine - 4.71 seconds. But he has good feet and can play Cover 2. He was good enough in baseball to play for the Tar Heels in that sport, as well, as a freshman.

He played well in Senior Bowl practices. Said Burney: "The Senior Bowl is probably the best experiences I've had as far as football. You know, playing at North Carolina you play with a lot of great guys.
Going up against that receiving crew, the Boise boys, the boy from San Diego State is going to be a sleeper, was a good experience. On the first day they came out and you had to get a feel for them. Being around the coaches and learning that NFL scheme was a great experience that will carry onto the draft."

---Mark Gaughan

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