NFLPA defends NFL exec questioning its “commitment” to a deal

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WASHINGTON — NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith was driving to his Maryland home, when he heard NFL executive vice president/ general counsel Jeff Pash address reporters outside the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service headquarters.

Pash’s comments compelled Smith to turn around and defend the union.

Around 6:42 p.m., Pash addressed reporters for five minutes.

“It’s a process. It’s not an event. And things can come together quickly, and things can fall apart quickly. All I can say is, we’re committed to the process. It’s not glamorous, it’s not easy,” Pash said. “But we will work at it as hard and as long as it takes. We really do believe in the value of collective bargaining, we really do believe in our relationship with the players association and, I’ve said it many times, if both sides have an equal commitment to getting this deal done, it will get done. I don’t know if both sides have an equal commitment.”

Asked if the NFL has a commitment, Pash said, “Obviously, we have the commitment. No question about it.

Then asked if he’s suggesting the NFLPA does not, Pash said, “I’m not suggesting anything about the other side.

“I’m saying if there’s an equal commitment on both sides, there’s a deal to be made.”

Soaked by heavy rains, Smith made a nearly three-minute statement to reporters but didn’t take any questions.

“I think it’s important that everyone and all of our fans understand and know the commitment of our players to this process,” Smith said, noting that his side was summoned to the federal building at 9 a.m. but opted to leave around 6 p.m., when it was clear owners would not be meeting with them.

“I understand that there’s probably some things that Jeff Pash has to say,” Smith said. “But this is the truth. We know that as early as March of 2009, from the discovery in the television case, that the National Football League, engaged in a strategy to get $4 billion of television money to lock out our fans lock out our players, even if the games weren’t played.”

Smith then pointed to a document from the NFL that, according to him, “talks about how they were going go about securing television money, and I quote, ‘for cash during a lockout.’ ”

Smith then implored reporters to “stick to the facts,” before concluding by adding that they would return Friday morning “because we want football to continue.”

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