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July 21, 2011

Owners could proceed with vote

ATLANTA – Things are getting a little sticky here on a hot, humid day in Georgia.

NFL owners came to this special league meeting at a hotel near the Atlanta airport intending to vote to ratify a new CBA. The vote would be followed by a press conference celebrating the end of the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

Free agency would begin by Monday, teams would report to camps at the end of next week and no games would be lost.

That scenario could still play out.

But with the NFLPA debating whether to re-certify as a union at its own meeting in Washington, D.C., the time line might not be as smooth as the league hoped.

Owners are reportedly considering a vote to ratify the CBA – 24 of the 32 owners would need to sign off on the deal – later this afternoon. That would put immense public pressure on the players to follow suit tonight – the NFLPA has an 8 p.m. conference call scheduled – or risk coming off looking like the bad guys.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae have made it clear in recent days they don't want to be bullied into a deal. So a vote by the owners this afternoon could anger Smith and the players and set a deal back.

Further complicating matters is the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners, including the Panthers' Jerry Richardson, are scheduled to be in Boston early Friday morning for the funeral of Myra Kraft, wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Failure to get a deal done this week almost certainly would push back the start of training camps and jeopardize the preseason schedule. St. Louis and Chicago are set to play in Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7.

(6:30 p.m. update)

Owners are meeting again after taking a short dinner break.

Colts' Jim Irsay says owners hope to have something done, including approval on revenue-sharing, in the next hour and a half, "then see where they are on the other side."

Added Irsay: "I knew when we met at 10 a.m., it would be hard to get something done by 5. ... Everything's going in the right direction; it's just time-consuming."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on July 21, 2011 at 03:55 PM | Permalink


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