NFL players don't vote, want more time

Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire

The NFL owners voted to approve a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement following several hours of meetings in Atlanta, but the player representatives decided not to vote on the proposal following a conference call Thursday night.

The NFL owners voted to approve a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement following several hours of meetings in Atlanta, but the player representatives decided not to vote on the proposal following a conference call Thursday night.

The players reportedly chose not to vote due to lingering issues and the belief that the proposal included terms the sides had not agreed to.

In an email to the player reps, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith wrote: "In addition to depriving the players of the time needed to consider forming a union and making needed changes to the old Agreement, this proposed procedure would in my view also violate federal labor laws."

SportsBusinessDaily's Liz Mullen reported "the owners' negotiating team took to their constituents terms the players' negotiating team told them they would not agree to," according to a source.

ESPN reported the NFL is giving the players until Tuesday to vote on the proposal.

If the players had voted to ratify the agreement and re-certify as a union, the fourth-month-old lockout would have ended. But Smith and multiple player reps have said they will not be rushed into ratifying an agreement.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the news of the owners' vote was not being received well by some player leaders, but that one person on the conference call said it was a business-like conversation and that the players wouldn't vote "until they get a full document" from the league.

The reaction came following the NFL's announcement that included plenty of praise from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"We are pleased to announce that our clubs have approved the terms of a long-term negotiated agreement with the NFL players," Goodell said. "It includes many positive changes that emerged from a spirit of compromise rooted in doing what is best for the game and players. DeMaurice Smith and his team, and the players and owners involved in the negotiations, deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism. If approved by the players, this agreement will allow the league and its players to continue to benefit from the NFL's popularity and will afford a unique opportunity to deliver to fans an even better, safer, and more competitive game in the future."

The proposed agreement includes a salary cap plus benefits number of $142.4 million per franchise in 2011.

If the players ultimately vote to approve the deal, they can begin voluntary workouts at team facilities Saturday. The same day, teams can begin negotiating with drafted rookies and their own free agents, restricted free agents, exclusive rights players and franchise players. They can also release veterans.

Teams can also begin negotiating with other teams' free agents and undrafted rookies, although they cannot sign them until the league year officially begins at 2 p.m. EST on July 27.

Training camps would also open Wednesday.

However, that schedule remains subject to change if the players decline to approve the vote and negotiations continue.

Roster limits would also expend from 80 to 90 players to help teams deal with the truncated period leading up to the start of the season. The Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams scheduled for Aug. 7 has been canceled.

The owners voted 31-0 to approve the deal, with Raiders CEO Amy Trask abstaining.

"We have profound philosophical differences on a number of issues - both of a football and economic nature," Trask said in an email to CSNBayArea.com. "We have consistently expressed our views on these matters to the league."

Bengals owner Mike Brown said his team would hold training camp at Georgetown College following the owners' vote Thursday night, a decision that had been delayed due to the lockout.

"It's why we all voted for it. It's time to play," Brown told the team's website from Atlanta. "It's a great day. I think it's a good deal for all sides. The players got a good deal out into the future and got things looking at the safety issue. It's good for the fans. They won't miss football. It's for 10 years. And it's a good deal for the owners." The supplemental-revenue sharing plan was apparently new news to the players, but Brown said it wasn't why he voted in favor of the proposal.

"It was a tail wagging the dog. You can't let the tail wag the dog," Brown said. "The dog was getting a deal in a timely fashion. That was the biggest thing."

However, the negative reaction from several NFL players quickly followed the NFL's statement.

"If the players agree to this deal, it will be a sad day in football," 49ers second-year running back Anthony Dixon tweeted.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark was also busy on Twitter, writing several posts including: "more fans need to be asking themselves 'would I agree to a deal I haven't even seen yet?' Then they'd understand your side."

Redskins defensive end Vonnie Holliday was even stronger with his opinion, tweeting: "Look guys I have no reason to lie! The truth of the matter is we got tricked, duped, led astray, hoodwinked, bamboozled!

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