Everybody's Doing Damage Control

John Mara and Steve Tisch sent out a statement to fans about the NFL lockout. Player rep Shaun O'Hara had his own views.

Now that the long journey through the court system has started for the NFL and its players with decertification and lockout, you might be interested in how each side is doing damage control.

The owners are busy sending out messages to their fans, much like the one here from Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. And the players, like Giants player rep Shaun O'Hara, have had their own say.

For your edification and enjoyment, we bring you both sides. First, Mara and Tisch.

"We are as disappointed as you are in the developments of the past week and the current state of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

"For there to be no CBA in place today is extremely disappointing, given the amount of time and hard work and the numerous conversations devoted to achieving an agreement, not just in the last two weeks but over the last two years. We are not happy about that and we certainly understand and appreciate your unhappiness and frustration.

"Where we are today serves no positive purpose for you, for our players and for the National Football League. Although we had hoped and expected to have an agreement by now and are disappointed that we do not, we remain as committed as ever to returning this process where it belongs, which is the negotiating table. We are convinced that what we have stated many times remains true, that there will be a new agreement and there will be a 2011 NFL season. It is just a matter of when we are able to reach an accord on the current issues.

"The impatience and the displeasure we know you are feeling is completely understandable. We can only assure you that the point of the entire process is to make our game as strong as it can possibly be and to enable it to continue to grow for the good of everybody - the league, the players and the fans.

"The last thing we wanted is for the business end of our sport to play out this way. We know people frankly don't care how owners and players manage their business. These negotiations distract and detract from what is most important to all of us: the game.

"We are doing all we can to return the focus as quickly as possible to where it belongs, the field of play."

And now, Mr. O'Hara:

"After agreeing to a weeklong extension in an attempt to come to a fair agreement with NFL, we realized that the owners do not have an interest in agreeing to a fair deal with the players," O'Hara told the Daily News in an e-mail. "Therefore we have decided that the NFLPA will no longer represent the players in collective bargaining with the NFL.

"It was evident to us that the owners had no intentions of sharing vital information when entering into a 'partnership' that a 'Collectively Bargained Agreement' represents. We will now move forward with involvement from the court system to reach an agreement."

"As a player I would like to thank the fans for their support through these challenging times. And I would like to assure them that football is not just a game for us, it is our livelihood, and we will do everything within our power to resolve these issues."

Somehow, it remains hard to root for either side. Unlike the other nine percent of Americans who are unemployed, none of these people are wondering where their next meal is coming from.


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