Players don't vote; NFL on hold

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WASHINGTON --- The NFL is stuck in a holding pattern, with work still to be done to end the lockout. The players haven't even scheduled a vote.

Kevin Mawae, the NFLPA president, said the players are still reviewing the new deal.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Kevin Mawae, the NFLPA president, said the players are still reviewing the new deal.

People from both sides of the labor dispute planned to talk through the weekend -- although not face-to-face -- to try to resolve the differences that are preventing players from accepting the owner-approved proposal that would put the league back in business.

After the NFL Players Association decided not to vote Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, it's now possible the group won't make any decision until next week. It all comes down to how long it takes to resolve the remaining issues.

As it is, clubs won't open their facilities to players today, when owners wanted to unlock the gates.

"Now it's just waiting," Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "Be flexible, and wait and see what happens."

Owners ratified the tentative terms 31-0 -- the Oakland Raiders abstained -- on Thursday, provided players would give their OK, too, and re-establish their union within a certain timeframe.

But players decided later Thursday not to hold a vote, saying they hadn't had a chance to see a finished product.

By Friday, it was in hand.

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 benefits; a salary system to rein in spending on first-round draft picks; and unrestricted free agency for most players after four seasons.

What the players must do

Even when players decide they're OK with a final agreement, their approval process is more complicated than the owners' was.

First, the 32 team representatives will have to recommend accepting the settlement. Then the 10 named plaintiffs in the players' lawsuit against the league must officially inform the court of their approval.

Eventually, all 1,900 players would take a majority vote to approve returning the NFLPA to union status. When talks broke down in March, 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.

-- Associated Press


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