NFL, players talk about stopping the clock
By Mark Maske
Negotiators for the NFL and the players' union are discussing the possibility of postponing Thursday night's deadline for a new labor deal, sources said. The league's collective bargaining agreement runs until 11:59 p.m.
Representatives of both sides are meeting with mediator George H. Cohen at the downtown Washington offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Players are poised to decertify their union Thursday if there is no postponement, which would be the first step toward filinig an antitrust lawsuit against team owners, sources have said. The players then could seek an injunction in court to block a lockout by franchise owners.
The two sides are deeply divided over how to share the $9 billion in annual revenue that the NFL receives, with team owners, who currently collect $1.3 billion towards their expenses before the players' share is calculated, asking for an additional $1 billion off the top.
They 32 team owners also want to extend the regular season to 18 games, install a wage scale for rookies and test players for use of human growth hormone.
In addition to putting off union decertification by the players and a lockout by the owners, at least temporarily, a postponement of the deadline would keep the sport's free agent market from opening Friday as scheduled.
The owners and players agreed to multiple extensions of the bargaining deadline before completing their last labor settlement in 2006.
March 3, 2011; 2:11 PM ET
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