Shutdown Corner - NFL

You may remember our story from a few days ago that CBS College Sports refused to accept a commercial from the NFLPA that had a simple message -- "Let Us Play" -- in response to the potential lockout. On Wednesday, I spoke with George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFLPA, about CBS' decision, and the NFLPA move to put together a follow-up commercial. And if you haven't seen the original commercial in all its apparently offensive glory, here it is:

"We are the official sponsors of this game," Atallah told me of the former Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game that he NFLPA now sponsors. "Here is the relationship so that everyone understands it: The same people who put on the Texas vs. the Nation game came to us and said, ‘Hey -- we want the Texas vs. the Nation game to turn into the NFLPA College All-Star Game.' So, our original contract was with the organizers and promoters of that game. Those organizers and promoters went to CBS College Sports and asked, ‘Do you want to air this game under certain conditions?', and they agreed. One of those conditions was that we would get two minutes of airtime during the game. That contract between the three parties was executed about a year ago. So, we've known for a year that we had this ad time on CBS College.

"There were no content restrictions, barring anything offensive or explicit. So, we used this opportunity to say, ‘Hey, we can't buy $3 million worth of ad space at the Super Bowl, but we've got this ad time anyway, so let's make it viral and get the ‘Let us Play' message out.'

"And you know the rest -- they said no. CBS has said that they claimed to have denied the ad last October, but we didn't even submit the ad until January. They had no idea what the ad was about until mid-January. But they said that they didn't want to get involved in labor issues, even though the NFL came out and said that they didn't have a problem with the ad."

So now, the NFLPA, in conjunction with New Media Strategies, put together a follow-up ad, which simply asks CBS to "Let it Air." Atallah told me that he intended to submit the new ad to CBS Wednesday, effectively asking CBS to air an ad asking them to air an ad that they won't air.

And if that makes sense to you, maybe you should be put in charge of these negotiations -- or sent to Egypt to straighten everything out.

A few other tidbits from Atallah:

He can't comment directly on the Special Master case written about on Shutdown Corner Tuesday, in which the NFL was found to be in violation of the Reggie White Rule with two of its newest TV contracts, but received $4 billion dollars in lockout insurance from the networks for the 2011 season anyway. However, when I brought up the notion that Special Master Stephen Burbank essentially made an "appeal decision" by giving the owners the money they wanted and saying that the league was in violation, Atallah didn't disagree. Basically, Burbank punted the case to a higher court, which is where it will be appealed.

The recent Pro Football Talk report indicating that the NFLPA lost a claim for health insurance for the players in the event of a lockout is correct. Atallah had just heard the ruling and didn't have any further details at that time.

As always, we'll keep you abreast of these labor issues as they proceed (or don't).

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