League, union extend talks for one week
DeMaurice Smith (AP/Evan Vucci)
DeMaurice Smith (AP/Evan Vucci)
NFL writer
Posted Mar 4, 2011
Michael R. Martinez

The NFL and players association met Friday and agreed to extend their talks for seven more days, giving fans hope they might reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement and avoid a lockout or lawsuit.

You want the good news? The two sides in the NFL labor dispute have agreed to continue negotiating until at least next Friday at 5 p.m. ET.

The bad news? If they haven’t reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement by then, you can expect a lockout by owners – or worse, a move by the players association to decertify and take this dispute toward a showdown in court.

Not the best options, but at least fans can be encouraged that the league and the union, with the help of federal mediator George Cohen, decided it was best to keep talking. Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, citing sources, reported that the NFL Players Association told the league it would begin the decertification process today unless the league agreed to extend the talks for 10 days (the league even named Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees as lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit). A compromise was reach at seven days.

So it’s a start, although there is still considerable ground to cover. Now the two sides will have the weekend to meet among themselves and discuss strategy before resuming discussions Monday. Cohen will continue to mediate.

The extension doesn’t mean the business of football can continue. It only means the league and the union are still negotiating; teams cannot sign, trade or cut players until a new CBA is signed and in place.

After hammering out the specifics of an extension on talks, representatives left the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington D.C. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said, “We want to continue to thanks our fans for still being patient as we work through this.” He did not answer questions.

And perhaps that’s best. The less said the better.

Save the talking for next week. In the meantime, fans will keep hoping for the best.

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