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Forward progress? NFL sides still talking

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Associated Press
June 23, 2011

NFL owners and players met in the Boston area Wednesday in the latest attempt to work out a new collective bargaining agreement, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press.


Commissioner Roger Goodell and members of his labor committee resumed negotiations with players’ association chief DeMaurice Smith and several players on Wednesday. A day earlier, NFL owners were briefed on recent progress about a new CBA.


The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are confidential.


One NFL player told the AP that the NFLPA told him progress is being made “but there’s still maybe two weeks to go” before a settlement is likely. The player also spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the players association.


The main topic of discussion is the breakdown of total revenues. One person told the AP on Tuesday that the players’ share would approach the 50 percent the NFLPA has said it has received throughout the last decade. But the expense credits—about $1 billion last year—that the league takes off the top would disappear.


Also, there would no longer be “designated revenues” from which the players would share, the person said. Instead, the players would share from the entire pie, which they project will grow significantly over the course of the new CBA, which is expected to run anywhere from six to 10 years. So if they are taking 48 percent or more of a much higher revenue stream—without the initial NFL deduction for operating expenses—the players still would receive far more money than they got under the previous agreement.


A salary floor keeping teams within 90 percent of the cap also would be included. The players have been concerned that some teams whose revenue streams don’t match up with the richer clubs would try to hold down salary spending, but the proposal would require the full salary cap spending to be in cash.


Both sides remained optimistic about reaching an agreement after owners were briefed on many details of a new CBA, and they did not carry their Chicago meeting into a second day.


“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said at those meetings. “It can be done, it’s something we have to keep working at. Every day closer hopefully, that’s the goal.”


The owners’ lockout of the players began March 12. Training camps are scheduled to open in late July.


, and the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday became the first team to change its preseason plans. The Ravens will train at their facility near Baltimore rather than at McDaniel College in Winchester, Md.


The owners spent five hours Tuesday listening to updates on various CBA issues. Afterward, the league’s chief negotiator Jeff Pash said “we’re eager to accelerate the pace of the negotiations.”


Goodell said ownership is “united and determined to reach an agreement and have a full 2011 season. The ownership has a better understanding of the framework (of a new CBA).”


Several owners were expected to have objections to some of the proposals. Goodell was asked if there was a consensus among owners, to which he replied that “is a little deceiving because we don’t have an agreement” with the players.


Both sides sound eager to find common ground rather than return to court. A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the league’s appeal of a lower-court injunction that originally blocked the lockout. That injunction is on hold, and a ruling could come anytime.


Instead, the owners and players have ramped up their talks, and the meetings in New England are the fourth over the last four weeks. They also met near Chicago, in the New York area and on the Maryland shore.


“You always have incentive,” Irsay said of getting a deal done sooner rather than later. “I remember ‘87, ‘82. You always have incentive … but it’s a process, and you have to let the process work and keep working through it. But I know it’s better when you have labor peace on both sides.”



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