NFL owners and Players Association leaders met for more than 12 hours in New York yesterday, failing to reach a deal to end the league’s months-long lockout but returning to try again in the morning.
“We still have a lot of work to do,’’ NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith said as he emerged from the Manhattan law office where talks went deep into the evening. “We spent all day working hard for a deal that is fair and in keeping with what the players deserve.’’
While Smith stressed the gaps in the deal, players involved in a lawsuit against the league had a conference call during which it became clear the sides were close to agreement on the rules for free agency, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the labor talks are not being announced publicly, said even with the progress in the negotiations another long day of talks was expected today.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell led the league’s group, which also included owners Robert Kraft of the Patriots, John Mara of the Giants, and Jerry Jones of the Cowboys. NFLPA president Kevin Mawae was among the players’ representatives.
US Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan, who has served as a mediator between the two sides, also was involved. He is scheduled to go on vacation tomorrow, but talks are expected to continue in his absence.
Lawyers for both sides gathered Tuesday and Wednesday to put together some of the paperwork that will be needed when a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement is struck.
Players and owners have been holding meetings around the country over the last six weeks, with pressure mounting to break the labor impasse. A major sticking point has been how to divide revenues for a $9 billion business that is easily the most popular professional sports league in America.
Some training camps are set to open in less than three weeks and the first exhibition game, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is Aug. 7. Hall of Fame president Steve Perry has said the plan now is that the game will go on as scheduled.
The Bills still appear on track for holding training camp at St. John Fisher College in suburban Rochester. Todd Harrison, a faculty member who works with the Bills in overseeing camp, said school officials, in consultation with the Bills, “continue moving forward’’ with their plans.
The pressure on players and owners to reach a deal has been turned up another notch by the New York attorney general’s office, which has launched an investigation into whether the lockout violates state antitrust laws. The players’ lawsuit, filed in federal court in Minnesota, also is an antitrust case.
Collins retires Quarterback Kerry Collins retired after 16 seasons. Collins, 38, was facing free agency after his contract expired in March, though he said as recently as last month that he still wanted to play. Tennessee has said it plans to trade or release quarterback Vince Young after the lockout ends, which would leave just rookie Jake Locker and Rusty Smith on the roster at the position. In 195 career games, Collins maintained a 55.8 completion percentage and threw for 40,441 yards, 206 touchdowns and 195 interceptions. Collins lead his team to the playoffs four times, including an NFC Championship appearance during the 1996 season with the Panthers and a Super Bowl appearance with the Giants in the 2000 season . . . Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, who suffered from frontotemporal dementia, died in Baltimore. He was 69. Obituary, B12.