x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

NFL lockout resolution takes another step closer to end zone

Leaders of the NFL Players Association will meet in Washington today, but it is not clear if they will vote on the owner's proposal to end the four-month-old lockout.

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, has spoken to DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA head.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, has spoken to DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA head.

NEW YORK // Leaders of the NFL Players Association will meet in Washington today, but it is not clear if they will vote on the owner's proposal to end the four-month-old lockout.

A person with knowledge of the NFLPA's plans said 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."

Owners approved a tentative agreement to end the lockout on Thursday, but the players said they need more information before they can vote.

On Saturday, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA 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 today's meeting will be "to understand where things stand after this weekend's conversations".

Clubs had been scheduled to open their facilities to players on Saturday, according to the schedule set by the owners when they voted 31-0 to approve a deal. That was contingent on the players' executive committee ratifying the agreement.

The 32 team representatives must recommend to the full corps of about 1,900 players to accept the settlement. The 10 named plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the league, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, must 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.

Among those items of most concern to players: the league's personal conduct policy; drug testing; 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 US$9 billion (Dh54.9bn) in annual league revenues will be divided, about 53 per cent to owners and 47 per cent to players over the next decade; the old contract resulted in nearly a 50-50 split.

Clubs would each have a $12m cap of salary and bonuses, and at least that in 2012 and 2013.

Further delays could be costly. Already, one game has been lost: the league called off the Hall of Fame exhibition opener, scheduled for August 7 between the Chicago Bears and St Louis Rams.