MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (second from left), NFL retired players' lawyer Michael Hausfeld and NFL players' lawyer Jeffrey Kessler arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

NFL Lockout: NFLPA Executive Committee Approves Settlement; Hello, Football

The NFLPA executive committee approved a settlement to end the NFL lockout on Monday morning.

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NFL Lockout: NFLPA Executive Committee Approves Settlement

And with that, the NFL lockout is inches from the finish line. On Monday morning, the NFLPA executive committee voted to approve a settlement negotiated over the weekend, setting the table for an official end to the lockout. The owners approved a proposal to end the lockout on Thursday, though it contained items the NFLPA had not seen, causing a momentary uproar. A weekend of negotiations calmed some nerves as DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell hammered out a few remaining issues ahead of Monday's vote.

With the executive committee's approval, all that's left is a vote by the players, who are expected to follow the committee's recommendation. NFLPA executive director of external affairs George Atallah put it simply when announcing the results of the vote.

It's Unanimous.

With the lockout settled, business is about to pick up in the NFL. A tentative free agency schedule was released on Monday morning, with the first actual moves set to begin early Tuesday morning. Training camps will also open quickly as teams stagger starts throughout the week beginning on Wednesday.

The NFL lockout settlement is contingent on the NFLPA reforming as a union, though they have about two weeks to do so. The players are expected to vote to recertify using union cards distributed at team facilities and training camps.

We'll be back with more as it becomes available. For the latest news and updates, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream. Head over to Field Gulls for a breakdown of the lockout.


NFL Lockout Meetings Produce Hope, Possible Agreement Draft

After a marathon day of NFL lockout meetings on Thursday and another short meeting on Friday, the players and owners may have finally come to some kind of agreement, though it's tough to tell whether the end is near. The lockout talks hit a snag earlier this week when revenue sharing proposals rubbed the players the wrong way, according to a report on Thursday. But the two sides kept at it, meeting well into the night on Thursday during a day of meetings that totaled 15 hours.

Now we have word lawyers are working up a proposal to present to the NFLPA. Though no formal meetings are scheduled until Tuesday in New York, after the holiday weekend, work on a collective bargaining agreement is still ongoing. According to NFL PR man Greg Aiello, a draft of an agreement is in the works on Saturday.

Lawyers are drafting language for potential agreement, sharing it with PA. All kinds of phone, email exchanges going on. Work continues.less than a minute ago via UberSocial for BlackBerry Favorite Retweet Reply

This, of course, is a positive sign. If the NFL sees it fit to draft an actual, formal agreement, it could mean talks are coming to a close and the lockout may be nearing the finish line. But, again, nothing is concrete until an agreement is finalized and voted on, and the negotiations are still in a critical phase.

Hope floats in the NFL lockout talks, and fans are holding out hope the work stoppage comes to an end sooner rather than later. Saturday's news should breed hope that the lockout is near an end, though, and football may still get underway without losing any games.

For the latest news and updates on the ongoing labor battle, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream. Head over to Field Gulls for a breakdown of the lockout.


NFL Lockout Lifted, Seattle Seahawks Players Denied Access To VMAC

The NFL lockout is technically over, at least for the time being. On Monday, Judge Susan Nelson granted an immediate injunction to the players, lifting the lockout and sending the labor negotiations into a gray area. Players were notified of the ruling by the NFLPA, which is now functioning as a trade organization, and told they were free to report to work at their team facilities. Though many are in a “wait and see” holding pattern, some did choose to show up at team headquarters, including a few Seattle Seahawks.

But when Seahawks receiver Deon Butler, running back Justin Forsett and others showed up at the VMAC on Tuesday, they were turned away. Though the parking lot was unlocked, they were unable to get into the building, and left shortly thereafter.

Butler — who is recovering from a broken leg suffered in December — was hoping to see a trainer. Instead, he and Lewis headed to the gym in Sammamish where the two have been rehabilitating.

It’s players like Butler that need access to team facilities the most. Those rehabbing football-related injuries have been unable to receive the care they need during the lockout. Yet even with the lockout technically lifted, the Seahawks didn’t extend the courtesy, joining the Buffalo Bills in denying access to team facilities.

There were teams allowing players in for limited activities, though weight rooms were typically locked for liability reasons, but completely denying access endangers the Seahawks of being in contempt of court. While the lockout is on hold, players should be allowed into the facilities, despite the gray area of legality.

Besides, it’s terrible public relations for Butler to show up and be turned away while recovering from his injury.

For the latest news and updates on the ongoing labor battle, stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream. Head over to Field Gulls for a breakdown of the lockout and what Nelson’s ruling means.


NFL Players Association, Owners At Odds Over Financial Data With NFL Lockout Looming

The NFL Players Association wants the league to open its books in an effort to figure out just how much money teams are bringing in. The data in question is detailed, involving the records of all 32 teams, not just the league's financial data. It's a battle that's been waged for almost two years, and the major sticking points in collective bargaining agreement negotiations that could lead to a lockout.

The financial data is a key for the NFLPA as revenue sharing is discussed. The owners have, essentially, been claiming poverty despite the league bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. Open books, and the ability to establish how much revenue the teams have been bringing in compared to the operating costs associated with running an NFL franchise may help accelerate negotiations that have stalled as the two sides remain about $1 billion apart.

On Wednesday, it was all about financial disclosure, with the league offering some level of transparency and the NFLPA counter it wasn't enough. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is looking for everything -- including total operating income, total operating expenses, profit, net income and more -- while the NFL countered with the following:

• audited league-wide profitability data with dollar figures from 2005 to 2009, based on individual club statements;

• the number of teams that have seen a shift in profitability in that span;

• an independent auditor to examine the data.

The disclosure of team's finances has been a point of contention since negotiations began, but the league has stalled until this point. Even with a deadline looming, the NFL is still dragging its feet.

After two extensions last week -- one last 24 hours and another giving the two sides seven days -- a lockout deadline is again looming with just two days of negotiations remaining. If an agreement isn't made about the disclosure of financial data, it's likely the two sides kill negotiations, beginning a lockout. Of course, working under the pressure of a deadline, it's possible another extension is agreed upon, allowing negotiations to continue, at least temporarily. But until the NFLPA gets the data it wants, these negotiations will stall over the biggest stumbling block: money.

Keep an eye on our NFL lockout StoryStream for updates on the negotiations as the deadline looms for the latest on the meetings.


NFL Lockout: Extension Temporarily As Owners, Players Work To Push Deadline Further

While a 24-hour extension to continue collective bargaining agreement negotiations isn't much time, it appears the NFL and NFLPA are working toward a more long-term extension, using the extra day to hammer out the deal. The two sides agreed on a stop-gap solution in the 11th hour on Thursday, just before the close of Judge David Doty's option. The extension allows the two sides to continue to negotiate without a work-stoppage as they try to form a consensus on the press issues in the new CBA.

According to a report, the 24-hour window is meant to allow the two sides to piece together firm details of a longer extension, perhaps lasting another week. The owners and NFLPA need to figure out if contracts could still be signed, how drug testing would work and whether the extension would simply continue the current CBA with no strings attached.

Before Thursday's extension, the CBA was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Ahead of that deadline, the NFLPA was expected to decertify, paving the way for an antitrust lawsuit. As a formality, the owners would have to vote to stop work, creating a lockout situation. Those moves are all on hold now, but could happen tomorrow if a longer extension is not agreed upon.

Consider Thursday's move a stay of execution. The federal mediator was pushing for negotiations to continue, and the owners, apparently, proposed an extension on Thursday morning. For once during the negotiations, the NFLPA held the power and could have killed the deal -- no matter the public backlash -- by rejecting the offer. They didn't, so talks will move forward on Friday.

Stay tuned to our NFL lockout StoryStream for the latest as negotiations continue. For more on the Seahawks, check out SB Nation's Field Gulls.


NFL Lockout: David Doty's Ruling Prevents Owners From Pocketing TV Money In Big Win For NFLPA

Just about a month ago, the NFL won a ruling allowing the owners to continue pocketing TV revenue — to the tune of about $4 billion — even if a lockout were to take place and stretch into the season. The ruling would have allowed the league to stay afloat and hold strong for an extended period of time without having to worry about a significant drop in revenue. The NFLPA tried to block the owners from collecting the money, but failed at the time.

On Tuesday, that all changed after David Doty reversed the original ruling, preventing the owners from collecting that $4 billion. Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter reported the news on Twitter, breaking down what it means for both sides.

BREAKING NEWS: Doty reverses special master Burbank. “Holds that the NFL breached the SSA as to those (TV) contracts.” CLARIFICATION: doty will have a hearing with the nfl and nflpa at an undetermined date to decide two things 1) what the damages are, or 2) if the money will be put in escrow. but as of today the league does not have access to it.

As Trotter says, the ruling levels the playing field for the NFLPA and gives the union significant leverage in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Previously, the league was able to proceed as planned, waiting as long as it took in hopes of breaking the union with an extended lockout. But without that TV revenue, the owners’ position is severely weakened, giving the NFLPA a leg-up at the bargaining table.

The owners can, and likely will, still appeal the ruling, keeping the fight in the courts. For now, though, the NFLPA scored a big win just ahead of Thursday’s deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement. The two sides have reportedly resumed negotiations, working towards a last-second agreement. Even with talks open, it appears we’re still headed for a lockout this week, but it’s yet unclear how long it may last.

For the latest on the negotiations, check out the rest of our NFL lockout StoryStream.


NFLPA Plans To Decertify Before NFL Lockout, According To Report

The NFL Players Association will reportedly decertify ahead of a potential NFL lockout in a move that’s been expected since the collective bargaining agreement talks began to stall. The current CBA expires just before midnight on March 3, at which point the NFL owners are expected to lock the players out as offseason work stops. Ahead of that, however, in a move meant to improve its position, the NFLPA will cease to be a union, choosing instead to decertify.

The report, filed by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter, says the players have the unanimous support necessary to decertify, and the union will do so before a lockout begins. By ceasing to be a union, the NFLPA can take its fight to the courts, filing an injunction in an effort to prevent a work stoppage.

The primary reason for decertification would be to file for an injunction that, if granted, would prevent the owners from locking out the players. NFLPA officials and players believe that this could be the only hope to have a full NFL season next year. Furthermore, decertifying as a union prior to the expiration of the CBA would allow NFL players to seek injunctive relief and commence anti-trust action against owners in front of U.S. District Court Judge David Doty, who has had jurisdiction over the current labor agreement since 1993.

The second part of the equation, an antitrust lawsuit, is key. The NFL has yet to face a serious anti-trust challenge, a big reason why the league can operate the way it does. If the players are successful in their anti-trust lawsuit, it’s possible the owners will either crack under the pressure or that the league will change in a big way. At this point, with the owners holding all the power and threatening a lockout, a legal battle, not mediation, is likely the only way the players can succeed.

With Thursday’s deadline looming and no progress being made in mediation talks, it looks like were headed for a messy legal battle and lengthy lockout, with the real possibility of a season without football hanging in the balance. Stay with our NFL lockout StoryStream for the latest as the NFL and NFLPA battle it out over a new CBA.

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