THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Executive committee to meet in attempt to end lockout

By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / July 25, 2011

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The National Football League and its players continued to make progress yesterday toward a deal to end the lockout, a decision that could come as soon as today.

The Players Association executive committee is scheduled to meet today at its headquarters in Washington. The hope is that the complete global settlement agreement would be in place so it could go to a vote, but sources said it’s not certain to happen.

There’s a chance it could spill over into tomorrow. The list of seven outstanding issues the NFLPA had with the owners’ proposal is now down to two: the seven-year opt-out, and the plan for the recertification of the union.

With regard to the opt-out, the players want that protection, in case they feel this deal winds up not being fair to them, while the owners want a full 10-year deal because it will make the next television-rights contracts easier to negotiate - and more lucrative.

Once the executive committee gives its blessing, then it moves to the 32 player reps, who likely will be assembled via conference call.

If they are on board, then football would be back in business.

The 10 plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case, including Tom Brady and Logan Mankins of the Patriots, also would have to sign off on the deal.

Some of the plaintiffs will be in Washington to discuss the deal with the executive commitee.

The lockout is tentatively scheduled to be lifted Wednesday, when players could be welcomed back to team facilities, and teams could begin making roster moves and negotiating, but not signing, other free agents.

Training camps and the league year - including the regular free agency period - could start Saturday, if the more than 1,900 players vote to recertify the union, and approve the new collective bargaining agreement with a majority vote.

ESPN reported that the league and the players had reached an agreement on all remaining points, and the lockout was all but over, with the NFLPA making plans for a news conference today.

But a top NFL source cautioned that nothing is done until the majority of the players vote yes on the CBA.

The details on recertification were still being worked out yesterday afternoon. There’s a chance it could take up to two weeks. Players would be signed to provisional contracts, contingent on recertification. When the deal is finally signed, it probably will be more simple than that.

ProFootballTalk.com reported that the Eller class, retired players who filed their own antitrust suit against the league, still had the power to hold up a deal.

Greg A. Bedard can be reached at gbedard@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @greg_a_bedard.

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