- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2011

MARCO ISLAND, FLA. (AP) - The NFL Players Association says labor negotiations broke down last week because the owners’ last proposal would have made salaries a fixed cost and eliminated the players’ chance to share in higher-than-projected revenue growth.

“That’s a fundamental change as to the way the business has been done with the players _ player percentage always has been tied to revenues,” said Pete Kendall, the NFLPA’s permanent player representative.

Speaking to reporters Friday at the former union’s annual meeting, Kendall described the league’s offer as “kind of the old switcheroo.”

Kendall said that throughout negotiations, the players’ chance to share in increased revenues had been a key component of how to divide the NFL’s yearly take of more than $9 billion. He said the discussions until talks stopped last Friday _ the 16th day of federal mediation _ always revolved around the premise that if the rise in league revenues exceeded a certain percentage each year, players would get a cut.

Mediation cut off last Friday, and the union dissolved itself, allowing players to file suit in federal court. Hours later, when the old collective bargaining agreement expired, owners locked out the players.

“If the union had a problem, the best course of action would have been to make a counterproposal, continue to discuss the issue, or explain the problem,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “They were in such a hurry to get out of the room last Friday and file their lawsuit that they never mentioned this … issue.”

Aiello wrote that the league “made it clear” there would be an opportunity for players to get a share of extra revenues starting in 2015, “to reflect revenue growth generated from new stadiums, new television contracts, a possible shift to an 18-game season, and other potential opportunities.”

Aiello continued: “The union is now saying that instead of further negotiations the best thing to do was walk out of mediation, pretend to no longer be a union, and file a lawsuit. Those actions simply make no sense.”

NFL lead labor negotiator Jeff Pash told the AP this week that the owners’ final proposal was for a 10-year CBA. Kendall confirmed that.

“A 10-year, fair deal might be something worth considering,” Kendall said. “A 10-year deal where the players don’t participate in any of the upside is not a deal that I think is … something that the players should have taken.”

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