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NFLPA says it’s going over tentative deal
Not so, said NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith, who talked with Goodell several times by phone during the day and was informed of the owners’ vote before an official announcement went out. It didn’t take long for Smith to fire off an email to team reps denying it was a done deal.
“Issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open; other issues, such as workers’ compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms, remain unresolved. There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time,” Smith wrote.
Unhappy with the old collective bargaining agreement, owners exercised an opt-out clause three years ago, setting the stage for this labor dispute. The new deal does not contain an opt-out clause.
If players approve the agreement, team facilities would open Saturday, and the new league year would begin Wednesday, with full free agency and the opening of training camps.
“I can’t say we got everything we wanted to get in the deal. I’m sure (players) would say the same thing,” New York Giants owner John Mara said. “The best thing about it is our fans don’t have to hear about labor-management relations for another 10 years.”
He didn’t say anything about the next few days.
The old CBA expired March 11, when federally mediated negotiations fell apart, and the owners locked out the players hours later. Since then, teams have not been allowed to communicate with current NFL players; players _ including those drafted in April _ could not be signed; and teams did not pay for players’ health insurance.
Final issues involved how to set aside three pending court cases, including the antitrust lawsuit filed against the NFL in federal court in Minnesota by Tom Brady and nine other players. Pash, the NFL’s lead negotiator, said the owners’ understanding is that case will be dismissed.
One thing owners originally sought and won’t get, at least right away, is expanding the regular season from 16 games to 18. That won’t change before 2013, and the players must agree to a switch. Most oppose a longer season, claiming it will increase the risk of injuries and shorten careers.
“We heard the players loud and clear. They pushed back pretty hard on that issue,” said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, chairman of the league’s competition committee.
“Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions,” he wrote.
Even after all acceptable terms are established, a deal would lead to a new CBA only if NFLPA team reps recommend re-establishing the group as a union, which must be approved by a majority vote of the 1,900 players.
In March, when talks broke down and the old CBA expired, the NFLPA said it was dissolving itself as a union and instead becoming a trade association, a move that allowed the players to sue the league under antitrust law. But only a union can sign off on a CBA.
The deal would make significant changes in offseason workout schedules, reducing team programs by five weeks and cutting organized team activities (OTAs) from 14 to 10 sessions. There will be limited on-field practice time and contact, and more days off for players.
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
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