Sports

There's labor fuss about franchise tag

Go ahead and add franchise tags to the lengthy list of issues the NFL and its players disagree about.

The league is telling clubs they can place that designation on players whose contracts are expiring, even if there’s no new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that ends March 3. The union is telling agents the NFL is wrong about that.

The franchise tag allows a team to prevent one player from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said Thursday “if there is no CBA, the franchise tags will be meaningless.”

The two sides are scheduled to have their first formal bargaining session in more than two months on Saturday.

BENEVOLENT BEN

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent Tuesday night out on the town at the Super Bowl, treating his offensive linemen to dinner.

Roethlisberger was later spotted at a piano bar, where TMZ offered internet footage of the quarterback singing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”

The website said Roethlisberger spent about $1,000 at the bar – $800 tab plus $200 tip – and was nice, fun and “took care of everyone.”

Roethlisberger acknowledged going out, and said he takes his linemen out every Tuesday night when they go to the Super Bowl.

“It was superstition and tradition,” Roethlisberger said.

THE BET’S ON

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett have a friendly wager on Sunday’s Super Bowl.

If the Packers win, Corbett will give a charity check to a Pennsylvania Boys and Girls Club wearing Packers gear. He also has wagered coffee, honey, maple syrup, wine, vodka and Heinz ketchup.

If the Steelers win, Walker must give a charity check to a Green Bay Boys and Girls Club wearing Steelers apparel. He also has put up a block of cheese, rum produced in Milwaukee, a 3-pound chocolate football, mustard, wine from Door County, beer and bratwurst.

EXTRA POINTS

The Falcons signed coach Mike Smith to a three-year contract extension after he led the team to the NFC South title. Kansas City named offensive line coach Bill Muir as its fourth offensive coordinator in two years. The Bears hired Mike Phair as their defensive line coach. The Panthers will hire Georgia’s Warren Belin to coach their linebackers.

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