As the two sides in the NFL labor dispute work toward ending the
lockout, a small group of players met Monday with their attorneys
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press
that the players' side met on its own, without owners. The person
spoke on condition of anonymity because no labor developments are
being made public.
Players were told in conference calls that there will be more
negotiations this week involving commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA
executive director DeMaurice Smith, several owners and players at
an undisclosed location.
Previous meetings between the sides took place in suburban
Chicago, New York, the Maryland shore and Hull, Mass., about 18
miles south of Boston.
The players have an antitrust suit against the league that was
filed in Minneapolis, and the city also is where the sides met for
court-ordered mediation in May.
The lockout began on March 12, and players -- except for when the
work stoppage was briefly lifted in April -- have not been allowed
to train at team facilities or be in contact with any of their
coaches. Players on several teams have gathered on their own,
trying to keep in football shape so they'll be prepared to get back
to business on the field whenever the labor impasse is over.
"It's not about getting a deal done as quickly as possible,
it's about getting a fair deal done," said Houston linebacker
DeMeco Ryans, one of the team's representatives who worked out
Monday with other Texans players. "Whenever that time comes, when
a fair deal is on the table, that's when it will get done. We're
not in a big panic to get something done, just for the sake of
getting it done."
The key issue in the dispute centers on how to divide revenues
after the league took in about $9.3 billion last year. The
players' share would approach the 50 percent mark the NFLPA has
said it has received throughout the last decade, sources told ESPN last week. 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. Instead, the players would share
from the entire pool of income, which both sides project will grow
significantly over the course of a new collective bargaining
A salary floor requiring teams to spend close to 100 percent of the
cap in cash also would be included, sources told ESPN.com's John Clayton.
Training camps are scheduled to open in about a month, and the
first preseason game -- Chicago vs. St. Louis -- is scheduled for
Aug. 7 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions in Canton, Ohio.
"Hopefully, everything gets worked out quickly so we can get to
training camp on time and get guys back to work and have a full
season," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said in a telephone
interview with the AP. "That's what the fans want. Obviously, they
are the ones that make this possible, so hopefully we can get it
done for them."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.