GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The NFL was still without labor peace
after team owners met for most of Tuesday without reaching any
Yet another deadline looms Wednesday, with owners trying to
decide whether to accept the union's latest proposal.
A decision on whether to extend the collective bargaining
agreement was unlikely to come down until close to the latest
deadline of 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday. Before making a deal with the
union, the owners must resolve their own differences over expanded
internal revenue sharing. If they don't get that straight, a CBA
deal is unlikely.
The Tuesday meeting ended at 10:15 p.m. ET, completing more than eight hours of talks, ESPN.com's John Clayton reported. No vote was taken, and most of the evening was spent discussing at least three different revenue sharing plans, plans that have been discussed for years.
Raiders owner Al Davis joked that a lot of people were in the room "giving money away." While the discussion was good, no revenue sharing deal was close to settled. "Whenever you discuss revenue sharing, it's like Groundhog Day," Colts owner Jim Irsay said.
Steelers owner Dan Rooney was asked if there was any progress as the meeting ended. "Nothing worth talking about," he said.
Talks were to resume at 9 a.m. ET Wednesday, giving the owners 11 hours to get word back to the NFLPA about whether they accept the proposal or not.
"It's going to be a while. Quite a while," said Buffalo's
Ralph Wilson, one of leading proponents of revenue sharing.
Much of the early hours of Tuesday's meeting was spent simply
listening to commissioner Paul Tagliabue go through details of the
union's proposal. Then Tagliabue outlined revenue sharing, but
there was no discussion before the owners broke for dinner.
"We haven't punched anybody yet," said Rooney, who described Tagliabue's remarks as "Excellent. Super."
"He described how the owners and players should be in this
together for the good of the league," added Rooney, who has helped
to solve past labor disputes.
League spokesman Joe Browne said Tagliabue had agreed with Gene
Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, that
the owners would have a decision no later than 8 p.m. ET
Wednesday. That would come as the union, which is meeting in
Hawaii, holds its executive board session.
"It was a good day," Browne said after the meeting broke up
for good Tuesday night.
One of those who supported Tagliabue was Oakland's Al Davis, for
decades the NFL's most consistent maverick, who noted that the
league had had enough of labor disputes.
"I love my country and I love my league," Davis said as the
meeting broke up for the day. "People who have been through this
in the past want something good to come of it. What's good is
There seemed to be some hope they would reach an agreement that
would extend the contract that runs out after the 2007 season. It
came from Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who is 180 degrees away from
Wilson on sharing, but suggested for the first time that he might
have to give in a bit to let the owners solve their dispute.
"We want to play football," Jones said as he entered the
meeting. "We have an obligation to everyone, particularly our
"My gut is we're going to come up with something, but it's
still up in the air. It's going to be long and drawn out and
Finding a solution now is critical because free agency, pushed
back twice, is scheduled to start Thursday with a $94.5 million
salary cap that could go as much as $10 million higher if there is
an extension. And although both sides have agreed there will be no
more extensions there would be one more if there is an agreement --
until 12:01 a.m. Friday to give teams time to get everything in
If there is no settlement, then 2007 would have no salary cap
and create the kind of uncertainty that neither side really wants.
Revenue sharing hasn't been dealt with during the negotiations,
even though Upshaw has contended all along that no agreement can be
reached without it.
If nothing else, the tone of the owners was far different at
this meeting than in New York last Thursday, when they took just 57
minutes to reject the union proposal. Later that day, they extended
the deadline for free agency for three days and again extended
Sunday night just as it seemed talks had broken off.
That led to this meeting and the discussion over revenue
sharing, which will be necessary to meet the union's proposal for
just under 60 percent of the league's total revenues.
Low-revenue teams such as Buffalo, Cincinnati and Indianapolis
say high-revenue teams -- Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia, for
instance -- should contribute proportionately to the player pool
because they can earn far more in non-football income such as
advertising and local radio rights. Those high-revenue teams might
contribute only 10 percent of their outside money compared with 50
percent or more for low-revenue teams.
If there is no agreement, it would leave a number of free agents
commanding far less than they thought they could get and a glutted
market filled with veterans who could be cut to provide cap room.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.