NFL, players still have some issues
With talks aimed at a new NFL collective bargaining agreement coming down to the 11th hour, negotiators met deep into the night to try to resolve their remaining differences, mostly related to settlement of litigation filed by current and retired players.
Although a deal is still believed to be on track for ratification by owners and players in the coming days, there remained some thorny issues related to antitrust litigation. There also is a ruling by a federal judge that the NFL violated terms of the previous CBA by negotiating with television networks to build a war chest for a lockout that is more than four months long.
Reports that some named plaintiffs in the Tom Brady et al vs. the NFL suit were trying to get favorable settlement terms created controversy Tuesday, with some of those players angrily denying that they were holding up a potential settlement.
“I hesitate to even dignify the false media reports with a response, but obviously they are leading people astray,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees tweeted late Tuesday.
Brees reportedly was seeking to prevent being assigned the franchise tag in future years, a move that could limit his ability to bargain with other teams when his contract expires. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson also reportedly were looking for a similar deal.
NFL officials are adamant that all outstanding legal issues be resolved before a CBA is agreed upon.
“That means dropping of all lawsuits,” a league source told Newsday. “No deal, no CBA. No CBA, the lockout goes on. There will be no partial settlement, opening of training camps and then cleaning up the litigation stuff. The lawyers need to stop reaching for the moon and get this done.”
A high-ranking official from the players’ side said he was optimistic a deal could be done by today. Asked Tuesday afternoon whether he thought a deal could be done within 24 hours, the official replied: “It is certainly possible.”
Player representatives from the 32 teams are set to join meetings of the NFL Players Association’s executive council today in Washington, when players could vote on a proposed pact. A simple majority of the players is needed to approve the deal.
Owners are set to meet in Atlanta, where they also could would approve a new agreement, with a minimum of 24 “yes” votes needed.
Officials representing retired players, including Vikings Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller, joined the talks in New York. Eller sounded optimistic a deal could be done.
“I think it will wrap this week,” Eller said. “I think the talks are progressing along to have a season and start a season. I think there is still a lot more work to do in terms of what the retirees need to do.”
It’s really good to be back in contact with the attorneys and the league. But I thought we’d be further along than we are right now for our (retired players) part of it.”
Said retired players’ attorney Michael Hausfeld: “(Tuesday) was a significant day in terms of having some of the retiree representatives meet with the league to hear exactly what it is the league is contemplating. Nothing is written in stone yet, everything is relatively fluid. We are going to try to accelerate the process so that hopefully we can reach an overall resolution simultaneously with the players.”