Extension reached in NFL labor talks

Extension reached in NFL labor talks

Credit: AP

NFL players association members including New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, second from right, arrive for football labor negotiations with the NFL involving a federal mediator in Washington Thursday, March 3, 2011. The NFL and the players' union sat down Thursday morning for a last-ditch effort to avoid a work stoppage in America's most popular sport. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




Posted on March 3, 2011 at 6:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 3 at 6:50 PM

Whom do you side with?

The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed late Thursday afternoon to extend labor negotiations through Friday, a 24-hour extension. The news was first reported by the NFL Network's Kara Henderson.

"We just know right now that we granted a 24-hour extension," said Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, a member of the NFL Players Association's executive committee.

A 24-hour extension was only expected if the owners' proposal to the players Thursday was deemed good enough to possibly see an agreement down the road.

"For all our fans who dig our game, we appreciate your patience as we work through this. We are going to keep working. We want to play football," said DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director after meetings on Thursday afternoon.

While fans should not necessarily expect an agreement by Friday, it's always been said that without a ticking clock, nothing would get done by both parties.

Unless there is an agreement in place by tomorrow, the players will likely submit decertification paperwork to the National Labor Board, in efforts to block the owner's lockout attempts. Instead of the union representing the players, the players would be taking their chances in the court of law. ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Logan Mankins have agreed to be named plaintiffs on the antitrust suit the players would file. There would be nine plaintiffs on the lawsuit.

The NFL makes nearly $9 billion in revenue each season. The owners would like to see in their new agreement $2 billion off the top put into a pool for costs like stadium construction and business operations. This would double what they currently take before handing out money to the players.

“For an industry that's making 9 billion dollars a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way, and be true to their fans who are the ones who obviously allow for all the money that they're making so my expectation and hope is that they will resolve it without me intervening because it turns out I've got a lot of other stuff to do," said President Obama on Thursday afternoon from Washington.

Among the other significant topic being talked about between the two sides is a rookie wage scale; the owners' push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; and benefits for retired players.

The NFL has not had a work stoppage since 1987.

"We're working hard," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Also on hand for the NFL were Pash, outside counsel Bob Batterman, New York Giants owner John Mara, Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and several other league executives. Mara and Murphy are members of the league's labor committee, which has the authority to call for a lockout if a new agreement isn't reached.

"We'll stay at it as long as it takes," Pash said.

They'll be staying at least into Friday, though a deal isn't done. Washington Redskins player rep Vonnie Holliday told the AP that the two sides are "still apart" on a pact to replace the current CBA.

"I don't see how we can be that close right now unless somebody is going to pull a rabbit out of the hat; I just don't see it," he said

***Parts of this report came from the Associated Press***