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Ebersol: Players should do TV interviews

With ESPN having cleaned up the language in its broadcast contract with the NFL to ensure that payments to the league continue even during a possible lockout next year, every football broadcaster is fully in that camp.

This angers the union, which maintains that the networks are siding with management and financing the NFL’s ability to lock out the players next year when the collective-bargaining agreement expires. As such, the NFL Players Association last week suggested it might withhold players from pre-production meetings for broadcasts.

“If Fox and CBS and NBC, for instance, are going to finance the lockout, why should we give them free access to our players?” Mawae asked in an interview with SI.com. “We are taking a hard look at our players’ availability for the networks that choose to pay the league in the event of a lockout.”

NBC Universal Sports and Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol, whose network broadcasts “Sunday Night Football,” said he is surprised by the players’ stance.

“The only people who would be harmed by this are the players,” Ebersol said in a brief interview last week in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, site of the NFL owners meeting. “In many cases, this is the way the public gets to know them, whether it is in a pregame show or the shoulder programming.”

— Daniel Kaplan

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