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Those facts are simple, according to Rick Burton, former chief marketing officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee and a sports marketing professor at Syracuse University. What the players are doing, he said, is being thorough, regardless of the immediate backlash.

“The players don’t need to recover from anything. The players need to get it right,” Burton said. “They are sacrificing their long-term health to play this great game and to earn their livelihoods.

“At the end of the day, the average fan probably identifies more with a player, their heroes, than with an owner. If the players want a few more days, the public will go with that. The public could be thinking, ‘You players better get this right because you’re stuck with this deal for a long time and you guys make a lot more than we do.’ “

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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and Sports Writers Richard Rosenblatt, Chris Duncan, John Wawrow and Jon Krawczynski contributed to this story.