National Football League players are ready to vote on an agreement to end a four-month shutdown and allow the U.S.’s richest and most-popular sports league to start play on schedule.
Kevin Mawae, president of the NFL Players Association, said team representatives won’t be pressured into approving a deal before an NFL owners’ meeting in Atlanta tomorrow without understanding all aspects of a new collective bargaining agreement.
“There are a lot of issues, a lot of guys who we have to make sure are happy and feel comfortable with it,” he said today in a news conference in Washington. “There’s a lot of legal stuff that needs to take place, and we all know how long lawyers take.”
Players’ representatives from each team began arriving at the association’s headquarters in Washington, after the executive committee met yesterday. The players don’t yet have a full draft of a proposed agreement, according to a person familiar with talks who wasn’t authorized to discuss them publicly.
A majority of representatives for the 1,900-member association needs to approve a deal, which would also require support from 24 of 32 clubs in Atlanta tomorrow.
Negotiators for players and owners have tentatively agreed on terms of a deal that may last as long as 10 years, giving players about 48 percent of a projected 2011 revenue of $9.3 billion, according to three people familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be identified because talks are confidential. The salary cap would be around $120 million, down about $8 million from 2009, the last year played with a ceiling on spending, the people said.
Rookies, Free Agents
The agreement would also create a pay scale for rookies and free-agency rules that allow most veterans to negotiate with any team after four years, the people said.
George Atallah, a spokesman for the NFL Players Association, said on July 18 that players want to settle multiple legal cases simultaneously. The sides are also awaiting a decision from U.S. District Judge David Doty on a players’ May claim for $700 million in damages after Doty found the league unfairly negotiated television contracts.
The NFL and players are trying to reach a deal before missing one or more rounds of preseason games, which the league estimates are worth about $200 million in revenue a week.
The regular season is scheduled to open Sept. 8 when the Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints.
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