A Ray Of Hope In NFL Labor Negotiations

March 4, 2011 – 3:40 am by Ryan Phillips

It appears that for the first time in months, we may actually have movement on an NFL labor agreement. While the decision to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by 24 hours isn’t the godsend that some have touted it as, there has been some movement in the negotiations.

What happened on Thursday was important, as the mediator, George H. Cohen got both sides to agree to extend the deadline. In actuality, what Cohen wants is for the two sides to extend the current labor agreement by seven-to-10 days and continue negotiating during that time. Reports say the players’ union has already agreed to such a measure, but the owners have not.

Some believe this whole extension – which was reportedly proposed by the owners – was just a way for them to get all their ducks in a row before the impending lockout. While that may be true, the talks on Thursday included some concessions from each side.

The owners and players are currently trying to figure out several issues. The two main points of contention are how to split up the league’s $9 billion in revenue, and the fact that the owners want to have 18 regular season games. As of right now, the players are adamant about not extending the regular season, but they might have to give up on that one. Apparently the players offered some concessions on that front during Thursday’s nine-hour meeting.

At this point it’s pretty obvious that the owners want the 18-game schedule, despite the fact that the players hate that idea. Obviously more games equals more revenue, but most players agree that participating that many games each season would be detrimental to their health.

As things stand right now, today’s meetings will basically be a chance for the owners to decide if they’re willing to extend the collective bargaining agreement for the seven-to-10 days the players have agreed to. If they don’t, then at 11:59 p.m. tonight the labor agreement will expire and we will have a work stoppage. If they do agree to keep talking then both sides will have to seriously consider making major concessions to make this thing work. Until today there didn’t appear to be any hope of that happening for a while, but now there is a very small chance the NFL could avoid a lockout.

That said, this thing has a long way to go and the sides are still miles apart, so you might not want to get your hopes up just yet.

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