The NFL and its players found enough common ground to extend Thursday’s expiration deadline of the current collective bargaining agreement by 24 hours while the sides negotiate a longer extension, according to Pro Football Talk.com.
But the NFL Players Association remained at the ready to answer an anticipated lockout just the same.
Sports Illustrated reported that if the players indeed decertified their union and were locked out after the extension, a nine-player lawsuit headed up by quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, and New England offensive lineman Logan Mankins, would provide the the association’s initial foray into antitrust litigation. If nothing else, the NFLPA has plenty of star power to catch the attention of the courts.
The suit would undoubtedly stretch out the current labor unrest, since the owners would see it as a hostile act. But it also would bring considerable pressure on the owners to bend in what have been steadfast efforts to increase their split of a $9 billion pot and increase those profits with an 18-game schedule.
Despite 10 days of federally mediated negotiations, the sides were unable to hammer out a new CBA. The owners, however, did present the players an improved proposal Thursday morning that represented a shift toward the middle. And that was apparently enough for the players to agree to stop the clock.
The possibility of either side walking away from the bargaining and triggering a lockout remained, however. The players, skeptical of the owners’ motivation for extending the negotiations, have to decide if they can get the best deal now, or walk away and take their chances with the courts. They can still decertify, after which the owners will likely lock them out.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama inserted himself into the situation just long enough to distance himself from it. After defining the battle as one between billionaire owners and millionaire players — far above those wondering how they’ll pay mortgages and college loans — he added that “My expectation and hope is that they will resolve it without me intervening, because it turns out I have got a lot of other stuff to do.”