Court date is set for NFL labor war
WASHINGTON — Had enough of the he-said, he-said rancor between the NFL and players? Don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.
The outcome of the league’s first work stoppage since 1987 could be decided in court; the first hearing on the players’ request for an injunction to block the owners’ lockout was scheduled for April 6. In the meantime, there probably will be more of the same as yesterday, when Kevin Mawae — president of the NFL Players Association, the now-dissolved union — accused the league of spreading “complete falsehoods and complete lies.’’
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, on the same conference call as Mawae, said the owners’ final offer Friday “was all a front.’’
“I think it was all a show, with no real intent to get a deal done, other than just to say they made a proposal — that was no different than anything else that they proposed over the last couple years, couple months, couple weeks,’’ said Brees, a plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the league.
Brees and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, also a member of the players’ executive committee, complained that the players were not given enough time to assess and ask questions about the proposal owners made Friday morning.
“It just seems odd you would wait until Friday to put out a 20-point proposal, when each point has a number of different details in it,’’ Saturday said.
The NFL’s lead labor negotiator, Jeff Pash, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that Friday’s proposal contained various new provisions. He said owners offered a 10-year deal.
He also said the league would have been willing to agree to a third extension to the collective bargaining agreement, which originally was due to expire at the end of March 3, before two delays. But another extension, he said, “wasn’t really discussed in a serious way, because it was perfectly obvious they weren’t interested.’’
By the end of Friday, talks broke off, the union announced it no longer would represent players, Brees and others filed suit, and the owners imposed a lockout at midnight.
For all the things the owners and players disagree on, the two main sticking points are clear: how much money owners would get up front before dividing the rest of $9 billion in annual revenues with players, and the union’s demand for full financial disclosure.