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NFL talks on verge of collapse, last-ditch talks underway

By Mark Maske

Updated: 4:45 p.m.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the players' union, said the players gave owners a 5 p.m. deadline to turn over 10 years worth of audited financial records.

As he left the talks, Smith said he was heading back to the union's nearby office to await the union's response.

Smith said "significant differences remain" between the two sides.

It appeared late Friday afternoon that NFL labor talks were on the verge of ending and the union was about to carry out plans to take the dispute to court, sources said. But the two sides appeared to be engaging in one more last-ditch negotiating session to determine if that could be avoided.

A source said players were told on an afternoon conference call with the NFL Players Association that the plan is to decertify the union, a move that would mark the end of the talks. It is not clear whether developments in the negotiations could change the union's posture. Dissolving the union would allow the players to sue the NFL for antitrust violations.

One source said the league made a new proposal Friday to significantly reduce the difference between the two sides on how the NFL's $9 billion in revenues should be divided. Previously the two sides were said to be less than $700 million apart on that issue, and there were some indications Friday that the league was willing to make additional concessions.

It was not immediately clear how productive negotiations were Friday morning. But the renewed seriousness of the discussions raised the possibility that the parties could reach agreement on another postponement of the deadline.

The deadline was postponed twice last week. The sport's labor deal now is scheduled to expire at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Without another postponement, players are expected to decertify their union Friday afternoon and seek an injunction in court to try to block a lockout by team owners Saturday.

The union's executive director, DeMaurice Smith, had promised to brief players on the negotiations at 2 p.m. Friday, but that informal deadline passed without him appearing publicly.

Hopes for a settlement were buoyed last week when George H. Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, persuaded the two sides to agree to a pair of extensions that extended the bargaining deadline to Friday.

But talks stalled this week with the league and union unable to resolve the issue of how much money should go to players. The union wanted the league to provide additional financial data to justify concessions the players were being asked to make, and the two sides could not agree to the terms by which such financial disclosures would be made. Tensions had mounted considerably by Thursday evening.

As the league's negotiating team walked into the mediator's office Friday morning, the NFL's lead negotiator, Jeff Pash, said: "We'll do our best."

Nine owners on the 10-member bargaining committee attended Friday's meeting.The union's negotiating contingent Friday included roughly two dozen people.

By Leonard Bernstein  |  March 11, 2011; 4:12 PM ET  | Category:  Collective bargaining agreement , Union Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Something is seriouslyt wrong here. This isn't the 1900's when labor needed National Labor Realtions Act or even 1947 when we needed the Taft Hartly. These men are naturally gifted atheletes playing a game they were built to play. They were the best on their Pee Wee football teams and every team since. They got full ride scholorships to college to play football. They is something like $80k-$100k. Free tutors and likely got special consideration in academic concerns. They often took minimal credits a semester during football season. They only had to meet minimal SAT scores to be eligible for the scholorships. Most of their classes were chosen to optimize focus on football vs. academics. None were likely studying Pre-med or Engineering or Physics. Their major was football and the only reason they took classes was because they had to to play football. Many of them would gladly jump the collegiate ship in order to get into the NFL. Hey, they are playing a game for living. Colleges are as culpable in the issue as anyone because they want that money to run the university and argue that football and basketball make it possible for others to get financial aid. Now they are pros and expect the owners and courts to consider them workers like any other labor force. Right 6'6" tall, 290 lbs and 6% body fat. Just your usual factory worker or accountant. But is that mean you should get astroniomical compensation? Now the people that own NFL teams do so for one main reason. The Money. They had to have a bunch to buy the team and had to risk a good deal in their lives to afford a team. Should they be restricted to what they can earn? Have the players put up that kid of investment? Free market economics teaches us the concept of "What ever the market will bear" is the cost. If the market only could bare $100,000/year for a football player would we still have football? If the market bears $41 million for a Hainsworth was it a wise investment? Should a genetic anamoly be paid $500/game when the owners are earning $50,000/hour? Hardly so obviously there is a solution and it is not the Players concept of getting all we can get even if it means the owners loose money anymore than it is the owners right to experience windfall profits at a players expense. Obviously what the market will bear is why they are in this mess. Nike sells $4 sneakers for $150 because some idiot will pay it. Agennts and lawyers are feeding on the fans insatiable appetitie like footbal was some kind of Roman Gladiators spectacle. We did without the World Series after the big baseball strike and everyone still made their mortgage payment and put food on the table. Come on let's put professional sports back into perspective. It is a game and the players only participate for a few years on average. They will get paid well and need to invest wisely for when their career is over or ended by injury. Bilateral greed solves nothing.

Posted by: karday | March 11, 2011 6:36 PM

yall need to stop crying
what if the military decided to have a lockout would that be fair; We are the most under paid peoples for the job we do.
There's no negotiations for us either do it or get out. We the protector of freedom,
and yall can't come up with a simple agreement

Posted by: biglloyd55 | March 11, 2011 3:32 PM

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