Negotiations to prevent an NFL lockout took a grim turn Thursday in Washington with the cancellation of the second day of a planned two-day bargaining session.
“We wish we were negotiating today,” NFL Players Association spokesman George Atallah said. “That’s all I can say.”
There are just three weeks to go before the collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3.
The NFL confirmed that commissioner Roger Goodell has canceled a meeting of owners scheduled for Tuesday in Philadelphia, where labor was expected to be a topic.
“Despite the inaccurate characterizations of (Wednesday’s) meeting, out of respect to the collective bargaining process and our negotiating partner, we are going to continue to conduct negotiations with the union in private,” league spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press via e-mail, “and not engage in a point-counterpoint on the specifics of either side’s proposals or the meeting process. Instead, we will work as hard as possible to reach a fair agreement by March 4. We are fully focused on that goal.”
The collapse of the talks came as a surprise. The two sides got together Wednesday for the second time in five days, the previous negotiations taking place in Dallas on Saturday before the Super Bowl.
Owners opted out of the current CBA in 2008 and are seeking a bigger cut of the league’s revenues, which are roughly $9 billion, as well as a rookie wage scale.
The players are happy with the status quo.
BRONCOS’ THOMAS OUT
Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, who just completed an injury-plagued rookie season, tore an Achilles’ tendon during an offseason workout in Atlanta just a week after slot receiver Eddie Royal had hip surgery that could sideline him until the summer.
Thomas, the first receiver selected in last year’s draft, is expected to be out six to eight months. The Broncos are hopeful Royal can return by late May.
NEW DAMAGE CONTROL
The NFL says about 2,000 fans forced to sit in temporary seats at the Super Bowl will receive a face-value ticket refund or a free ticket to a future Super Bowl – a separate deal from the one for the 400 fans who were denied seats. Those fans were offered a choice of a $2,400 payment and a ticket to next year’s Super Bowl, or a free ticket to any Super Bowl, plus round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations.
New Browns coach Pat Shurmur, making his first public appearance since being hired last month, said he’ll also serve as the Browns’ offensive coordinator next season. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, landlords of the Metrodome, voted unanimously to replace the snow-damaged roof of the venerable stadium – at a cost of $18.3 million. Work could get underway by the middle of March with a goal of finishing by Aug. 1, which may disrupt the Vikings’ exhibition schedule.