WASHINGTON (AP)-Locked staredown billion dollars, the NFL and the players union has led the last day of the expiring collective bargaining agreement with the single word, and significant progress in increasing the likelihood of moves that ultimately could threaten the 2011 season.
The sides were scheduled to resume Thursday morning federal mediation. The current labor contract runs out at midnight Eastern time on Thursday that will be Friday, and among the possibilities is that the union withdraw before the deadline, the deadline could be extended, or owners could decide to block players, something the association has planned all along.
That these cases, the most popular sport in the country liquidate losing regular-season games for a work stoppage for the first time since 1987. This probably seems inconceivable that football fans who buy tickets and drive ratings, helping the NFL become an industry with annual sales topping $ 9 billion.
Two people who feel the NFL Players Association plans told The Associated Press has been prepared to decertify the union Thursday, unless last-minute wins. This activity represents the Union does not represent the players that would waive the rights of labor, and instead risk the court under competition law. People spoke on condition of anonymity because the Union has not made plans for the public.
There was a series of activities Wednesday: The four-hour mediation session involving all 10 members of the owners of the working committee, the union president Kevin Mawa (notes) and the New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (notes); meeting three hours of the owners of hotels 25 miles away Chantilly, Virginia, with another planned withdrawal Collection of owners on Thursday, and started a private mediator George Cohen from 20:00 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell two top-flight lawyers, the New York Giants owner John Mara and the Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy.
Mara is the first owner participates in the nine days of mediation on Tuesday and Murphy left just after 21:30 Goodell leads the NFL labor negotiator, Jeff Pash, and outside counsel Bob Batterman.
"Long Day," said Mara.
Asked the purpose of the meeting in the evening half an hour with Cohen, Pash said: "To speak with a broker and get some direction."
Almost 12 hours earlier when she and other members of Goodell's NFL team arrived Wednesday for talks at the hearing said Pash, the league and the Union could agree to postpone the date for reaching a new CBA.
"We have to see where we are. We have said it is an option. Do not do anything on the table," said Pash.
The owners took no action during the afternoon session in Chantilly, and most said they were heading out of town, including some, like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Kraft of New England Patriots, which were mediated by Wednesday.
Owners are not required to take a vote lockout that authority has been given to their labor markets committee, which met separately for one hour.
"We can not comment, and more, we are definitely still involved in the dialogue, so no comment," said Jones.
Colts owner Jimmy Irsay of Indianapolis said the owners happy to be updated on the negotiations, but there was no reason for them to stay in Washington as the deadline approaches.
"We had a chance to ask questions, but we did not break with a vote of lockout or something," Irsay said.
Asked what should happen on the road to the expiration of the CBA, he added: "I never expected, except to have A, B, C, D and E, and still predict Change F. It a chessboard, moving. around and things happen at odd times. "
Labour members who participated in negotiations Wednesday were: Mara, Murphy, Power, Jones, Jerry Richardson, Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers Art Rooney, Mike Brown (notes) at Cincinnati Bengals, Clark Hunt, the Chiefs Kansas City, Dean Spano San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos and Pat Bowles.
Brees, a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee, Mawa and had participated in this round of mediated talks, which started Feb. 18. But now all members of the Executive Committee of the Alliance must be at least once.
"We're not talking about" Mawa said, when he left. 'It's better than talking. "
Because Cohen said the two parties to remain silent in public about ongoing negotiations, none revealed any specific information on what progress had been made.
The highest point of glue along has been how to divide the revenues of the league, including the reduction of the team owners should be given in advance to help cover some costs, such as construction of the stadium. Under the old agreement, the owners received $ 1 billion on top. Entered these negotiations to add $ 1 billion for that.
Other important issues: a rookie salary scale, pushing the owners to extend the 16-game regular season to 18, while the reduction of the preseason with two games, and benefits for retired players.
Cohen said last week that the sides were far apart on key issues.
At the end of Thursday, more will be known exactly how far.
"I do not want to put any certainty that tonight or tomorrow might bring can provide," Irsay said Wednesday. "It's really, really difficult to predict. Things change. "
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writer Joseph White in Chantilly, Va., Larry Lage in Detroit and Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.