Following are statements from Houston Texans Chairman/CEO Bob McNair, who spoke to reporters on a conference call Thursday evening regarding the NFL labor situation.
(Opening statement) “I’m pleased to report that the definitive agreement that we’ve negotiated with the union, the owners approved it today by a vote of 31, with one abstention, and I’m quite pleased. It’s a 10-year agreement. It deals with a number of issues that I think are important to us and important to the players and it will be for a 16-game season. The players were not ready to look at an 18-game season. We’d said all along we weren’t going to try to go to 18 games without player approval, and so that was the case.
“In terms of some of the offseason work, that will be reduced. We’ve addressed a number of the health and safety issues, so all in all, I think we have something that gives a lot to the players and at the same time, gives us some of the things that we needed, so we’ve got a business model that we think will work for the next 10 years and we’re excited about it. We’re sorry that our fans had to go through this whole process with us, but unfortunately, that’s just part of the deal. We’re anxious to get our players back in and get them on the field and start an exciting season.”
(on the salary cap and the salary floor under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement) “The salary cap is $142.4 and the floor changes over time, but basically it’s about 95 percent of the cap is what it will average, so everybody will be pretty much in the same pay range.”
(on whether he expects the Texans players to be in the team’s facility on Saturday) “I think that the players would come in probably about three days after the union has approved the deal and signed off on it, so probably sometime next week, but it all hinges on when the union approves it, so we’re waiting on them.”
(on when free agency begins and whether the roster size will increase) “We didn’t get into the roster limit at this point in time, but what we will be doing is next week, probably sometime during next week, we’ll start signing college draft picks that we’ve made and our own unrestricted free agents, and then it will be after that that the regular free agency will open up. (Texans senior director of media relations) Kevin (Cooper) has got the calendar, so what you’ve got to do is just look at the calendar, and the starting time is when the union signs. That’s when the clock starts, so until they do that, the clock won’t start, but hopefully the whole process will be starting next week.”
(on if the whole process was worth it and if he felt like the owners did well in the negotiation process) “There were a lot of things we needed addressed and many of them did get addressed. We didn’t get everything we wanted and the players didn’t get everything they wanted. We got enough modifications in there so that we have a business model that will work for the next ten years. It’s set up so that there’s incentive for us to go ahead and invest in the teams, invest in the stadiums and those are the things we have to do to keep an attractive game for our fans. They want to be in a nice environment; they need nice facilities, nice venues in order to do that.”
(on if there is lingering resentment between the players and owners, given some of the things said by both sides during the lockout) “I think you just don’t pay attention to that. I don’t pay any attention to it and I hope the players don’t. We’re looking forward to seeing our players. I’ve missed them and I know they miss being in our facility. I think everybody will be quite happy that we’re all back at work.”