Players’ committee to meet Monday
NEW YORK (AP) – Though a vote to end the four-month lockout isn’t a certainty, the players association’s executive committee will meet in Washington on Monday.
A person with knowledge of the NFLPA’s plans told The Associated Press on Saturday that a vote could happen, “it just depends on what guys feel about what happened this weekend … but (they) are not committing that the executive committee is going to vote on anything.”
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the association has not revealed its plans.
Owners approved a tentative agreement to end the four-month lockout on Thursday. But the players said they need more information before they can vote.
On Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and players association head DeMaurice Smith spoke on the phone, and lawyers from both sides worked to clarify language. That work is not completed, the person said.
He said Monday’s meeting will be “to understand where things stand after this weekend’s conversations. No talk of not voting, no talk of vote.”
Clubs were scheduled to open their facilities to players Saturday, according to the schedule set by the owners when they voted 31-0 to approve a deal. That was contingent on the NFLPA’s executive committee ratifying the agreement.
Obviously, neither of those occurred Saturday, and the league won’t begin conducting business for a few more days.
The 32 team reps must recommend to the full corps of about 1,900 players to accept the settlement. The 10 named plaintiffs in the players’ lawsuit against the league – including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees – must officially inform the court in Minneapolis of their approval.
A majority vote of the players ratifying the agreement, then another returning the NFLPA to union status, must follow.
When talks broke down in March and the old collective bargaining agreement expired, the players dissolved the union, turning the NFLPA into a trade association. That’s what allowed the players to sue the owners in federal court under antitrust law.
Only after the NFLPA is again a union can it negotiate certain parts of a new CBA. Among those items of most concern to players:
-the league’s personal conduct policy;
-benefits, such as pension funds, the disability plan, and the “88 Plan,” which provides money for care of former players with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The major economic framework for a 10-year deal was worked out a week ago. That included how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues will be divided (about 53 percent to owners and 47 percent to players over the next decade; the old CBA resulted in nearly a 50-50 split); a per-club cap of about $120 million for salary and bonuses in 2011 – and at least that in 2012 and 2013 – plus about $22 million in benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.
One item in the document ratified by owners caught Smith and the players by surprise. A supplemental revenue-sharing plan for clubs hadn’t been discussed during negotiations between the league and players, Smith said.
Goodell and the owners expressed hope their vote would lead to a speedy resolution to the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987. They called it an equitable deal that improves player safety and allows the sport to prosper even more.
But the players said they needed more time to examine the documents.
Further delays could be costly. Already, one preseason game has been lost: The league called off the Hall of Fame exhibition opener, scheduled for Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington and sports writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, John Wawrow in Buffalo and Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this story.