NFL players preparing for 2011 lockout

As collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners continue to drag, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said he expects the owners to lock out the players before the 2011 season.

Chad Ochocinco, representing OCNN, asked the first question of a press conference this afternoon in which the NFLPA laid out their message. He asked Smith how worried he is about a lockout next season.

“On a scale of 1 to 10,” Smith said, “it’s a 14.”

Smith said he and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae have informed players to save 25 percent of their paychecks in order to prepare for a lockout. Mawae said negotiations for a CBA have been “frustrating” and moved at a “snail’s pace.”

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Smith hammered home two points most. First, he said the owners’ latest television deal gives them $5 billion in 2011 even if there is a lockout, which he said could not be labeled as anything but “lockout insurance.” Second, he said the owners have not provided the specific financial statements proving they have lost the revenue that would necessitate their proposed 18% percent rollback of total revenues that goes toward players salaries.

More to come on this later.