Falcons’ Dimitroff can do without NFL’s CBA mess

Thomas Dimitroff would rather be working on Falcons roster than going to NFL meetings. (AP photo)

Thomas Dimitroff would rather be fixing Falcons roster than going to NFL meetings. (AP photo)

Thomas Dimitroff was driving to a scheduled NFL meeting the other day,  then decided it would be better for his mental and physical well-being if he went for a bike ride instead.

“I made it all the way to the Camp Creek Parkway exit,” the Falcons’ general manager said. “Then I sort of made a U-turn and went back home to Buckhead.”

Dimitroff didn’t actually miss the meeting, which was canceled. This was Thursday afternoon. NFL owners were scheduled to vote on a proposed collective bargaining agreement with the players at an airport hotel. The league’s general managers were scheduled to meet shortly thereafter at a different hotel to go over new CBA rules. But as owners kept delaying their vote for no apparent reason — oh look, here comes the dinner buffet! –  Dimitroff decided he didn’t feel like sitting in a hotel to wait them out.

So the cycling enthusiast/snowboarder/general rare breed among NFL GMs went home to get his bike.

“In the spirit of the Tour de France, which had a massive stage that day with three incredible climbs, I decided to blow off some steam and hammer around the neighborhood,” he said. “Rode for about an hour and 15 minutes.”

This NFL lockout has caused damage and frustration. We touched the other day on the league and club employees who’ve paid the price – with salary cuts or even layoffs – while owners and players figure out how to divide their roomful of gold bars. The fun of offseason roster shuffles also has been smothered.

Here’s another one: I can’t imagine the frustration of being a general manager right now. They’re programmed to evaluate players, form a plan for their respective roster and then implement that plan. But during this lockout, they can only really do the first with confidence. Even forming a plan is subject to change because there has been no certainty about the parameters of the CBA.

Falcons fans must wonder to what extent this affects the team’s makeover plans, following last year’s tremendous regular season (13-3), but ugly playoff exit (48-21 loss to Green Bay).

It’s July 23. Dimitroff’s job normally is done by now, but he hasn’t even started yet. When the CBA is finally agreed to, this is going to be like a 32-team drag race. The only question is which teams start dropping engine and transmission parts after flooring the gas pedal.

Logic says Dimitroff and his staff have long since finalized their priority list of re-signings, street free agents and a possible difference-maker (likely target: Minnesota defense end Ray Edwards, who’s also reportedly coveted by Philadelphia and New England).

When asked how the lockout has affected his football-operations staff, Falcons owner Arthur Blank said: “They’re like a sprinter. They keep getting called back from the starting line because they went out too quick.”

Dimitroff liked that analogy. Then he added his own: “It’s like being a piece of driftwood. Solid and sound. Drifting through rough waters, staying the course, until you get to the calm straight.”

We really need to get this guy something to do.

He admits he has had to guard against the over-analysis that relative free time can lead to. (I was thinking this would’ve been a good time for me to seek Fantasy League advice.)

“No question, there have been times when we’ve said, ‘OK, we’ve discussed that enough. Let’s move on,’ he said. “But we’re not complaining or being cynical about everything. I strongly believe this league is about adapting and changing. That’s the only way we can approach this thing. We’re being as patient as we can be. We’ll be prepared when it’s time to go.”

Here’s one plus: When the CBA is done, Dimitroff said he’ll feel on even ground with other general managers for the first time.

“We’ll all be in the same boat,” he said. “It’s exciting to me that I’ll be going into my fourth year with a new CBA. I came in during the previous one, and I’ve always felt like I was trying to play catch-up.”

Soon, everybody’s head will be spinning. And there won’t be time for bike rides.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

70 comments Add your comment


July 23rd, 2011
2:18 pm


July 23rd, 2011
2:20 pm

When the owners voted 31-0 for the CBA, you know it had to be heavily on their side. I think this lockout will last a while. TD will get sore buns riding his bike before this thing gets worked out.


July 23rd, 2011
2:31 pm

Maybe the baby players who basically got everythinig they wanted will get off their butts and get this done. They basically didn’t like getting a deadline from the owners and are sitting in their little corner mad. The owners should pull the agreement now and watch the players squirm. The owners have enough money to live, not so much for the players.


July 23rd, 2011
2:54 pm

The owners should give the players until the Tueday deadline. If they don’t sign pull the offer. I don’t know what is required to move forward but the owners should do that. If that means bringing in scabs, Great! The players would soon realize that fans come to see their teams year in and year out. The players come and go. I don’t know of any other business that owners have to show profits to employees and give them half. The owners carry all the risk with exception of injury. I hate to tell you but many jobs in America are much more dangerous. The players are being paid more than anyone they have ever known makes and they continue with their greed. I can’t figure out why somehow they think they are on equal footing with the owners. ( You are unskilled labor). I know a lot is at stake for the owners and they bought themselves an insurance policy with the TV Networks in the event of work stoppage. They are the big boys and simply out maneuvered the players. (Sorry) The owners should combind all the teams into one corporation with 32 shareholders and then they can dictate all terms and salaries without fear of colusion. The corporation could come up with a fair salary structure : QB’S $250,000 , RB’S $200,000 ect. If the players don’t like it then go get a job! The owners should reap all the benefits of their risk, investment and business savy. The owners are to ego driven to do this but that new corporation would make three times the profit. Sorry Players! You are simply assembly line workers! This is America, I know we have forgotten! If you want what the owners make then get together and buy a team. I don’t think so because that would require riski and business knowledge.

Underground Atlanta

July 23rd, 2011
2:55 pm

it is a mess

Covers Dixie like the Dew

July 23rd, 2011
2:59 pm

The players are the assemby line attempting united representation.

Good Dawg

July 23rd, 2011
3:00 pm

This is about as exciting as watching the “Tour De Dopers”.
Sorry, gotta go watch my paint dry.

Vain Jangling

July 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

I read a great piece this week about the perils of free agent signings written by Bill Barnwell on Grantland.com entitled Free Agents You Meet in Hell. Check it out.

Good Dawg

July 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

I want my COLLEGE football!!!!!

Football Expert

July 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

gotta beat boise state in the GEORGIA dome

Pucker up fans....

July 23rd, 2011
3:17 pm

Your the ones that are about to get screwed by the new contract….and notice that smile on players and owners faces….cause they’re suckering you again! Aren’t your a$$es sore yet?


July 23rd, 2011
3:18 pm

Schultz: Dimitroff makes big bucks himself. He is paid well. So what if his normal plans are interrupted by a CBA
that drags on with a big part of the blame on his Boss.My question to you is: are you feeling sorry for him? Otherwise what is the point of this article.

ted williams head

July 23rd, 2011
3:27 pm

go good dawg can hardly wait

Reid Adair

July 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

I’m still amazed by the people who think the players have driven the owners broke in these negotiations. Obviously, they don’t actually keep up with what’s going on.

I have faith in Thomas Dimitroff. All 32 teams will be on even ground (unless people have been breaking the rules). I’m sure he has a solid plan in place.

Wonder if that $20 hot dog tastes better...

July 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

In the Ghetto Dome….Or $15 beer, or $11 Coke….Not enough to get $150 for an upper-level end zone? New contracts mean higher prices suckers…

Got a comfy seat...

July 23rd, 2011
3:34 pm

At home, watching the games with good, inexpensive food that is served up hot..and the beers are about 0.83 cents each.

Are we there yet?

July 23rd, 2011
3:36 pm

Wake me when it’s over.

Gwinnett Fred

July 23rd, 2011
3:58 pm

comfy seat: Where do you buy your beer?

At 0.83 cents per beer, that means I can buy a CASE for 20 cents?

Seriously though – if this thing ever gets done, I like the Falcons chances better than ever. Give 32 teams a fresh start with new rules and the better GM’s will benefit. Dimitroff is certainly one of the better ones and should take advantage of the situation!


RE: Gwinnett Fred

July 23rd, 2011
4:04 pm

The decimal point is correct….look again, not $1.83…..0.83
Multiply by 12 and it comes out to approximately $10 a 12 pack…which is average
Where did you learn your math to get 20 cents?


July 23rd, 2011
4:04 pm



July 23rd, 2011
4:07 pm

Note to self don’t send kids to Gwinnett Co. schools.

ROFL mwh6767

July 23rd, 2011
4:10 pm

At least not Gwinnett Freds school.

Falcon Fan

July 23rd, 2011
4:11 pm

Players need to get on the ball..its time to play. They were there as both sides agreed before owners voted. Now its time for players to vote. If Player don’t like it, call off the season. To hell with them.

Players are crybabies

July 23rd, 2011
4:22 pm

and they will all suffer due to the almighty dollar.
Have a great day!


July 23rd, 2011
4:26 pm

Both sides are all about the money grab. The only ones that suffer are the fans. Neither side cares about the one side of this equation that really pays the bills…. THE FANS. The only way to get these fools attention is to no show up and not watch but we won’t do it. Football is the american pasttime and fans won’t stay away like we did baseball. Owners and players know it and don’t care how long this takes.

Gwinnett Fred

July 23rd, 2011
4:43 pm

To all of you that flunked out of math:

0.83 cents is LESS than 1 cent you morons!

I’m sure comfy seat meant 83 cents, but again he put 0.83 cents (notice the decimal point dummies).

Really, some of you should think about what you say before confirming how stupid you are. Did you go to Atlanta Public Schools yourself? You must have ro have “passed” math and think that 0.83 cents is the same as 83.0 cents.

Frigging dumba$$e$.

Impartial Observer

July 23rd, 2011
4:49 pm

To those bashing G-Fred, you owe him an apology.

0.83 DOLLARS per beer would come to about $10 for a 12 pack. But 0.83 CENTS would come to about a dime for a 12-pack.


July 23rd, 2011
4:55 pm

How about the networks who fork out the dough? How about they just say “enough”, cut their contribution in half and tell the teams to do with it what they can. Less contribution by the networks means cheaper advertizing costs, utltimately cheaper products for us to buy…which I believe is a good thing…

At every level in or economy, there is greed. It’s not just owners and players, it’s corporations and factory workers, and sales people, and the guy selling parking spots at the game, and the politicians.

We could all use a little humility.


July 23rd, 2011
5:20 pm

So many of you commenters are missing the point; the point is not to make you feel sorry for Dimitrioff, it’s to give you an inside look at how these labor negotiations (and the failure to come to an end to this lockout) is effecting another aspect of football (and our Atlanta Falcons) operations, and a peek inside our GM’s thoughts during this time.

Thanks for this, Mr. Schultz.


July 23rd, 2011
5:27 pm

OK, math class is now over. Lets talk football.

Jeff Schultz

July 23rd, 2011
5:32 pm

Vain Jangling — Will do.

Jeff Schultz

July 23rd, 2011
5:33 pm

Stinger2 — So what you’re telling me is this all comes down to money for you?

Jeff Schultz

July 23rd, 2011
5:40 pm

@CRuleSportsGuy — Thanks for the comments and perspective. You’re correct that I didn’t write this so folks would take up a collection for TD. Just trying to give you a look behind the scenes.


July 23rd, 2011
5:44 pm

OK – you want to talk football – this just came out within the hour::

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports “major progress” has been made in Saturday’s CBA negotiations, and that the NFLPA* Executive Committee will meet on Monday and likely recommend ratification of the agreement.


July 23rd, 2011
6:05 pm

Greed and DisOrder

In the National Football League, fans are screwed over by two separate but equally greedy groups: The owners, who rake in billions from television networks and the players who generally squander the millions they individually get to play a game. These are their stories!

Ca Chink!

Saturday July 23, 2011

Phone call recording hacked by AJC’s Jeff Schultz:

Arthur Blank: You’ve had the written contract for three days now, what’s the hold up?
Clabo: It’s a lot of big words and we got our cookouts to go to. Priorities, ya know?!
A. Blank: If you don’t get it done by Tuesday nite, we could lose the first $200 million preseason weekend.
Clabo: Not us, You! All we get is per diem during the pre-season.
A. Blank: I guess we can make it up by raising ticket prices or demanding a bigger take from the state.
Clabo: There ya go, the fans ‘ll pay it!
A. Blank/Clabo: LOL


July 23rd, 2011
6:43 pm

Have to admit though, that deal for Julio Jones is looking pretty shrewd now though. The new CBA means he won’t be given a contract that is prohibitive for the team going forward, so Dimitroff went out and got the best player they felt they could get to help the team and we’ll worry about next year next year. Love it.

Everyone can do with out this waiting. The waiting is the hardest part.


July 23rd, 2011
6:51 pm

And the Saints picking up two number ones is twice the shrewdness! LOL! GEAUX SAINTS!!!

Gwinnett Fred

July 23rd, 2011
7:32 pm

@Seen this: Won’t do you much good when you wind up cutting your first round picks 5 years later and have to burn ANOTHER first round pick for the same position to make up for it.

But go ahead and run your mouth. It’s just that kind of talk that will jinx the Saints into seeing Ingram’s left knee fold like a deck of cards this year (or fold like a fluke Super Bowl team to a below .500 playoff team in Seattle last year).


July 23rd, 2011
8:14 pm

Freddy Gwin: My talk?! And you think your comment is a rabbit’s foot for the falcan’ts?

LOL! Karma



July 23rd, 2011
8:35 pm

Why bemoan the owners/players for their back and forth arguing/greed. It is the fans who are getting the raw deal. After all, don’ t we pay their salary?

Respect should be shined upon the fan, we built his league. Not those who reap the benefits via gate counts

Dalton Dawg

July 23rd, 2011
8:37 pm

I 2nd what Darren said!!!


July 23rd, 2011
8:41 pm

this situation is about money. both sides have it, both sides want more……. just keep fightin it out guys , we will watch the braves. and nascar. take the rest of the year off, we ve still got college and high school football,

just wait

July 23rd, 2011
9:03 pm

The free agent signing frenzie will result in absurd contracts to the players benefit, the we can listen to the owners cry me a river


July 23rd, 2011
9:06 pm

i kinda tired of the whole thing, so what part of the CBA is for the fans? oh i get it we get to watch the falcons go all the way to the play-offs and then self- destruct again ? maybe we get lower ticket prices in the nosebleed section .? 50 cents off 4 dollar beer ? maybe they will give away bicycles at half-time.


July 23rd, 2011
9:10 pm

free bicycles so we can pedal away some of our frustrations ……

NFL fan

July 23rd, 2011
9:30 pm

Congressional idiots = NFL idiots.

This is ridiculous

July 23rd, 2011
9:37 pm

Looks like the owners got just what they wanted. Come out with some PR about how they came to agreement and then start talking about getting the players in camp. The problem is that they came to this agreement without the players input. Now it is the players who are the bad guys. Come on guys, just play, don’t worry about the fact that there is a good chance you will be out of the game after two years with injuries that you will keep for a lifetime.

who cares!!!

July 23rd, 2011
10:03 pm

bring on college football


July 23rd, 2011
10:05 pm

One thing I like about the cba is that teams like the bengals, bucs, and other cheapsters will have to spend a certain amount to meet 89 percent of the salary cap. Free agency should be very interesting.

5150 UOAD

July 23rd, 2011
10:18 pm

Make every player Pee in the cup when they come to the first meeting or practice.