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Saturday, March 19, 2011
Owners convene to sort out the Big Tricky

By Tim Graham

NEW ORLEANS -- I just checked into my hotel near the French Quarter and, as is my custom, pulled the drapes back to check out the view.

There on the awning roof below lay stray Mardi Gras beads. They were thrown at a time of giddy celebration. Now they're just shiny plastic not going anyplace soon.

Fitting, really.

NFL owners and coaches are gathering in New Orleans for their annual meetings while one of America's favorite diversions is in purgatory and the players scream "Show us your books!"

For the next few days, I'll report from the Big Easy, where the main topic will be the Big Tricky: the roiling labor standoff.

The league and its players have been sniping with e-mails, tweets and press releases over the past few days. The artists formerly known as the NFL Players Association gathered on Marco Island, Fla., for a few days and presented a unified front, calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's recent letter an attempt to divide the players and responding with a missive essentially calling Goodell a liar.

The next few days will be interesting, and I expect AFC East owners to be vocal. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson are used to the cameras and microphones. Kraft is on the league's labor committee.