SBD/June 16, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 97: Sides Will Keep Talking After DC Meetings End

The latest formal CBA negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA ended yesterday afternoon outside DC, "but smaller groups are expected to continue talking," according to Greg Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. More meetings, "including the owners’ gathering in Chicago, will take place next week," though it is "hard to say" where negotiations stand at the moment. One source said both sides have their "noses to the grindstone." The NFL and players are "discussing a deal that could run 8 to 10 years, and the crux of the negotiations remains what percentage of revenue should go to the players and how players might share in an anticipated boost in television revenue ... when new network contracts are negotiated later this decade." When the owners convene in Chicago next week, the league "would like to give them as much information as possible, in broad strokes, about the framework for a deal." Still, a "vote to ratify a final agreement in Chicago remains unlikely, as does the idea of an agreement in principle." Bishop notes the NFL "would like the deal finished around July 4." That date, "even after all the legal wrangling, would allow for several weeks of free agency so teams could sort out their rosters in time for the traditional beginning of training camps in late July" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: In DC, Mark Maske noted while the two sides "apparently would like to complete an agreement" by July 4, the "timing of a potential deal remains unclear." Sources "continued to caution that it potentially could take a bit longer than that to finish a deal" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/15). NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported, “We're not close to a deal. ... The idea that a deal would be coming in hours or days or a week or two is just preposterous. It's not where they are right now" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/15). ESPN's Adam Schefter: "One person said today it would be borderline insane to think that there will be a deal anytime in the next couple of weeks. What you're looking at here is talks continuing next week after the owners' meetings in Chicago and then the two sides zeroing in on the deadline sometime after July 4 before mid-July" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/15). ESPN’s John Clayton noted there is "still light at the end of the tunnel, but you still have lawyers pulling at the plug which, of course, could cause all the lights to go out." Clayton acknowledged progress has been made, "but it’s not something that’s going to get done this week." Clayton: "It’s something that can get done in two to three weeks as long as the lawyers don’t pull the plug” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 6/15). The AP's Barry Wilner noted while "no deadlines have been set" for the opening of training camps, all NFL teams "soon must decide whether to delay them, particularly those clubs that stage a portion of camp out of town" (AP, 6/15). Saints QB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Drew Brees said there is "probably a sense of urgency with the season just around the corner." He said that "most players think it will be difficult to start the season on time if no deal is in place by mid-July." Bengals LT and player rep Andrew Whitworth: "Everyone kind of has that feeling, that this thing's starting to end. When you look at the timeline for both sides, it starts to get real serious around this time" (NEWSDAY, 6/16).
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