NFL owners vote to ratify 10-year CBA; players skeptical of deal

Players say terms weren’t agreed upon

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ATLANTA — The NFL lockout was conditionally lifted Thursday evening after the league’s owners voted to ratify a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. However, players immediately balked at the proposal and accused owners of approving settlement terms that were not negotiated.

Relief generated by the possibility that the 131-day lockout was all but over quickly dissolved when players reviewed the proposal that owners ratified by a count of 31-0 (with the Oakland Raiders abstaining).

“The owners have agreed on a deal we the players have not seen!” Washington Redskins union representative Vonnie Holliday wrote on his Twitter account Thursday night. “This is not consistent with where we thought we were yesterday!”

Holliday did not immediately return multiple phone messages.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell began an evening news conference by announcing the owners had approved an “agreement that was negotiated with the players.”

“I think we’ve crafted a long-term agreement that can be good for the game of football,” Goodell said. “It’ll be good for the players, good for the clubs and most importantly good for our game and for our fans. We really are anxious to get back to football.”

That’s not going to happen just yet, despite the league’s release of a timeline for resuming business. Union representatives from the league’s 32 teams took part in a teleconference last night but did not vote on the owners’ proposal.

“Issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open; other issues, such as workers’ compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms, remain unresolved,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith wrote in an email to the 32 representatives, according to the Associated Press.

In order to collectively bargain those issues, the NFLPA must recertify as a union. It decertified and became a trade association when talks broke down in March. It was a legal maneuver intended to block the league’s lockout.

According to an ESPN report, the NFLPA informed player representatives that the owners’ settlement offer requires them to recertify the union and provide evidence of that by Tuesday.

ESPN also reported that owners are requiring players to vote to ratify the proposal by Tuesday and complete the collective bargaining process by next Friday. If Friday’s deadline is not met, those provisions would revert to how they were structured in the old CBA.

“Owners tried to pull a publicity stunt and trick us wit the same garbage deal from last time,” free agent receiver Mike Sims-Walker tweeted.

By law, a CBA can be entered into only by a union, and a majority of the league’s 1,900 players are required to vote in favor of recertification.

“The decision to decertify was important because at the time we were a real union,”Smith said Thursday outside the group’s office in Washington. “And the decision for our players as men to come back as a union is going to be an equally serious and very sober one that they have to make.”

Meanwhile, owners left Thursday’s meeting with a sense of accomplishment.

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