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Rhetoric heats up in labor talks

As the NFL and the NFL Players Association attempt to position themselves for further negotiations aimed at avoiding a lockout when the current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 4, tempers are getting short on both sides. 

In a recent meeting with several NFL player representatives, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union was "at war" with the league over the new contract. Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN that he was "repelled" by the analogy. 

In a chat with PFT Live today, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said the union has no regrets about the use of the war analogy. 

"Metaphors get used all the time,” Atallah told PFT Live host Mike Florio. “I’m not going to apologize for what De said. . . . It’s a strange world we live in where the players are being threatened with their own economic demise on one had, and people pick apart a comment or a quote . . . on the other hand. Frankly, I’d much rather spend more time talking about the steps and the threats and the realities facing our players heading into a possible lockout than I am worried about one line that our executive director said to a group of players.”

He said fans should be more upset by the impending lockout threatened by the owners. 

“That’s what people should be outraged about,” Atallah said. “They shouldn’t be outraged about a metaphor. They should be outraged about threatening games being canceled next year without providing any justification for it.”

Asked by Florio if Smith would make a similar move that Goodell announced today in saying that he would take a salary of $1 per year in the event of a lockout, Atallah wouldn't say whether Smith would do the same. 

UPDATE: Smith himself says he'll go one better than Goodell. On his Twitter account (twitter.com/DeSmithNFLPA) the NFLPA executive director said: "NFL executives reducing salaries in the event of a lockout? If we have a deal by the Super Bowl, I'll go down to 68 cents." Hmm ... Wondering if there's a word missing in there. Didn't he mean "if we DON'T have a deal by the Super Bowl?"

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