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Americans Side With NFL Players Over League in Talks, Poll Says

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Americans are siding with National Football League players over team owners in their labor dispute, a poll found.

The public favor players by 35 percent to 22 percent, according to the Seton Hall University Sports Poll. In a February survey, 21 percent said they backed the players and 18 percent supported the league. A third of those polled said a possible lockout would impact the 2011 season, an increase of 10 percent over three weeks ago.

“This is a battle of millionaires vs. billionaires and not a traditional labor dispute,” Rick Gentile, director of the poll, said in a statement. “It appears the public will blame the owners more than the players if there is a work stoppage, in keeping with the nationwide sentiment against management.”

The owners and the NFL Players’ Association today agreed to extend talks on a labor contract for one day, delaying a possible lockout for at least 24 hours.

A majority of those polled said they believe the owners’ claim that the players are paid too much; that the players should be allowed to see the owners’ financial records; that the U.S. government should stay out the discussions; and that the league should be prohibited from collecting television fees if there is a lockout.

The random telephone poll surveyed 786 Americans and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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