Sides Close To A Deal But Concerns Remain

The league and the former players union are close to a deal. All that's left is for both sides not to screw it up - which is always harder than it looks with this bunch.

Less than two minutes remain. The ball is on the one yard line. The coach just called a play that works 90 percent of the time.

All that's left is for the league and the former players union to not screw it up.

Reportedly days away from a deal, both sides broke for the weekend after another long day of negotiations in Manhattan on Friday. Lawyers and financial personnel will be working throughout the weekend while the head of the former players union DeMaurice Smith indicated to reporters that he would be meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at some point today.

While opptimism abounds, there are still one or two points which could cause the entire process to screech to a halt or, even worse, go backwards.

As outlined by Ron Borges in the Boston Herald, one of the final sticking points is what the players are calling "the culture of football" and the need to change it.

From Borges:

What the players seek is a reduction in contact drills and full-pad practices, a reduction in offseason workouts, and other changes designed to increase player safety and make violations of rules already in place enforceable. The players’ biggest concerns are coaches violating practice and workout rules already in place that are designed to protect their safety.

This was a much talked-about subject when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell first floated the idea of an 18-game regular season.

As the likelihood of adding games waned, however, so, apparently, did the owners’ willingness to address what the players consider a major health issue.

It would appear this very topic was being addressed yesterday during talks.

Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times gave us the following:

I'm hearing possible NFL safety changes could include 33% fewer OTA days, drastically fewer practices in helmets, no workouts before May 1.

The other stumbling block reportedly has been the actual funding of what is being called "The Legacy Fund" - which seems absurd.

Both sides have spent the last two years touting their commitment to improving the benefits and the care for retired players, especially those who retired prior to 1992. Now, with the completion of a new CBA reportedly days away, both sides are going to have a stare-down over who will actually pay for what essentially amounts to doing the right thing?

One thing that has been settled is the issue of whether teams would be granted "right-of-first-refusal" when it comes to their own free agents. Owners had wanted to be able to match any offer given to players they could potentially lose to free agency once it started, but the players side refused - and rightly so. The owners had ample opportunity to sign these players prior to the lockout.

So while work remains, the two sides appear to be clearing away the problem areas and to be heading toward a deal. The players will need to vote on any proposed deal as will the owners, supposedly next Thursday in Atlanta during the next owners meeting. If this happens, look for free agency to begin on July 25th and for camps to open shortly thereafter.

It's right there in front of them. A touchdown that will save the game - here's hoping they don't screw it up.

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Comments (2)

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 16, 2011 at 08:18 am

To me, the legacy costs are on the owners. In the event of a class-action lawsuit against the NFL over concussions, etc., Tom Brady's name will not be on the suit, but Bob Kraft's name will. The owners need to pony up, and they need to get some legal protection out of it when retired players pick up their checks.

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ZeroTolerance's picture

July 20, 2011 at 09:22 pm

I am beginning to hate these people.

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