NFL owners vote 31-0 to ratify settlement with players

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank (L) arrives for a NFL owners meeting as he is followed by the media including Steve Wyche (R) of the NFL Network, in College Park, Georgia July 21, 2011. REUTERS/John Amis (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

We’re one step closer to seeing the end of this mess. The owners ratified the settlement tonight with a 31-0 vote, and now we’re waiting on the NFLPA*.

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CBA discussions extended seven days

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith talks to reporters outside of negotiations with football team owners as they seek an agreement as a deadline looms for a player lockout, in Washington, March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

The NFL Network is reporting that the league and NFLPA have extended the deadline for the CBA for another seven days. It was originally reported that the extension was 10 days, but the actual number is seven.

The two sides will now take the weekend to meet and talk within their respective camps, while resuming talks on Monday. The hope is that the union and owners will take a deep breath over the weekend, clear their heads and start fresh first thing next week. Then, if everything goes well, maybe the new CBA will be signed by end of the day Friday.

But there’s speculation that this will be the last extension. Next Friday there will either be a new deal in place or there will be a lockout (or a decertification on part of the union). And just as the case was with the 24-hour extension, there will be no player transactions during the seven-day period. No roster moves will be permitted during the deadline extension, which has officially been set for 5:00PM ET.

While the situation still remains bleak, this is yet another step in the right direction. Are the two sides any closer to coming to an agreement? While that remains to be seen, at least they’ve agreed to keep the lines of communications open.

Either that or we’re all being suckered into thinking that the two sides are really trying when neither is truly willing to compromise.

Settlement coming between owners and union by the end of the month?

Domonique Foxworth (L) of the Baltimore Ravens and Kevin Mawai (C), former player for the Tennessee Titans and current NFL Players Association president, depart with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (2nd R) after a day of negotiations with football team owners as they seek an agreement as a deadline looms for a player lockout, in Washington, March 3, 2011. Man at far right is unidentified. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports seems to think that if the owners and union can reach an agreement on a one or two week extension in the CBA discussions, then a settlement may be reached “before the end of this month.”

Sources on both sides of the conflict agreed on one basic premise: If enough progress is made that another short-term CBA extension – perhaps a week, perhaps two – is announced by Friday night, the players and owners will almost certainly be headed for a settlement that will result in a multi-year deal before the end of this month.

If not, as one person familiar with the negotiations put it, “It will be Armageddon.” The union will decertify and file a class-action, anti-trust lawsuit against the owners, who’ll issue a legal challenge to the validity of the act while implementing a lockout (or de facto lockout). A long, bitter standoff would likely ensue, and the 2011 season could be threatened.

Something interesting that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be sides developing in the media when it comes to whether or not there be a lengthy lockout. Reporters like ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is of the mind that talks will go on for months, while writers like Silver remain incredibly optimistic. (Silver’s Twitter page reads like a Tony Robbins speech, with one positive outlook after another.)

I remain somewhere in between. When talking to friends about the issue, I’ve often said that there’s too much money on the table for both sides to subject themselves to a lengthy lockout. The NFL is so popular it’s printing money, so why do anything to upset the apple cart?

That said, after speaking with players like Kellen Winslow Jr., DeMarcus Ware and Stanford Routt, I get the impression that they’re very concerned about a lengthy lockout. They understand how real this situation is and how it may last until September. The union is sending them updates on how to seek benefits during a lockout and preparing them for what happens next in the event of no football next season.

But the one positive that has come out of talking with all of those players is that they remain optimistic and thus, so shall I. As a football fan, I hope Silver’s projection is on the money and a deal is reached soon. (Whether that’s before the end of the month or before I get done writing this sentence.)

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