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NFL owners, players agree on 24-hour extension for deadline

03.03.11 at 5:32 pm ET
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In the negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL players and owners have agreed to a 24-hour extension of the deadline, which was originally set for Thursday at midnight. The news, which was first reported by the NFL Network, means that both sides will likely continue talking throughout the day on Friday at the offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services in Washington, D.C. in hopes of avoiding the first work stoppage in the NFL since 1987.

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Report: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and o-lineman Logan Mankins could lend names to players’ lawsuit

03.03.11 at 3:57 pm ET
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Multiple outlets are reporting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and offensive lineman Logan Mankins have agreed to serve as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the NFL if the players’€™ association decides to decertify. The duo, as well as quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, would lend their names to the suit similar to the one the NFL filed in 1993 that was headlined by former star Reggie White. (That suit, in many ways, paved the way for NFL free agency.)

However, the decertification hammer still hasn’€™t been dropped by the players. If the NFLPA does file for decertification (something they would have to do by 5 p.m. to have it affect the current CBA) the players would be allowed to file suit ‘€” which would then have the names of the players on it ‘€” against the owners for restricting trade. (Disbanding the union would be necessary because a union is not allowed to sue a party with which it is collectively bargaining.) If the decertification paperwork is filed, it’€™s a bad sign for negotiations ‘€” that would start a chain of events where the whole negotiation would end up in the courts, tying up the talks and almost certainly having long-term affects on the game.

‘€œThat would signal a complete breakdown,’€ said Ron Washburn, who teaches a sports law class at Bryant University and has been following the negotiations closely.

Brady, who serves as the Patriots alternate player rep, has weighed in on union matters before ‘€” he talked last year about one of the major sticking points between owners and player, the possibility of an 18-game schedule.

‘€œI’€™ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games. The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented,’€ Brady said. ‘€œLook no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care. Our Union has done a great job of raising the awareness on these issues and will make the right decision for us players, the game and the fans.’€

Read More: Drew Brees, lockout, Logan Mankins, Peyton Manning

Obama: I won’t intervene in NFL lockout

03.03.11 at 2:07 pm ET
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Speaking at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, President Barack Obama said he would not intervene in negotiations between NFL owners and players.

‘€œYou’€™ve got owners, most of whom are worth close to $1 billion. You’€™ve got players who are making millions are dollars. My working assumption at a time when people are having to cut back, compromise and worry about making the mortgage and paying for their kids’€™ college education is that the two parties should be able to work it out without the President of the United States intervening,’€ he said.

‘€œI’€™m a big football fan, but I also think for an industry that is making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way and be true to their fans who are the ones who, obviously, allow for all of the money that they are making,’€ he continued. ‘€œMy expectation and hope is that they will resolve it without me intervening, because it turns out I have got a lot of other stuff to do.’€

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Reports: NFL players, owners talking about extension of deadline

03.03.11 at 1:56 pm ET
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Multiple reports now indicate that NFL players and owners are talking about a possible extension of the midnight deadline that would allow them to continue working on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported three sources indicated the extension of the talks are “now a definite possibility,” similar to what happened during CBA negotiations in 2006. It is not known how long the extension would last, but the idea of an extension is an optimistic sign for a negotiation that appears to be coming down to the wire.

Another reason for football fans to be encouraged includes the fact that the players’ union has not yet decided to file for decertification. If the NFLPA does file for decertification ‘€” something they would have to do by 5 p.m. to have it affect the current CBA ‘€” the players would be allowed to file suit against the owners for restricting trade. (Disbanding the union would be necessary because a union is not allowed to sue a party with which it is collectively bargaining.) That would start a chain of events where the whole negotiation would end up in the courts, tying up the talks and almost certainly having long-term affects on the game.

Read More: lockout,

Statement from Bill Belichick regarding the retirement of Stephen Neal

03.03.11 at 1:02 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a statement through the team on Thursday afternoon regarding Stephen Neal‘s decision to retire after 10 seasons with New England.

“They don’t come any better than Steve Neal. In terms of improvement and development as a player, Steve may have accomplished more than any player I have ever been around. His toughness, intelligence and competitiveness were at rare levels and all contributed to him going from being a champion in an individual sport to being an integral part of championship teams. I congratulate Steve for an incredible career and thank him for everything he did for me personally, our team and organization.”

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Opening statement from retiring Patriots’ lineman Stephen Neal

03.03.11 at 12:58 pm ET
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Before his Q-and-A with reporters this afternoon, Stephen Neal delivered an opening statement. Here’€™s the full transcript of what he said before he took questions from the media:

‘€œI never really was one who enjoyed the spotlight, but rather loved sport and competition. My first love was football, but graduated high school at 17 years old and being 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, limited my opportunities. Wrestling was my best option and I attacked that challenge. Thanks to T.J. Kerr and Darryl Pope, my college coaches at Cal-State Bakersfield, I became a four-time All-American and a two-time National Champ, and a World Champion in 1999.

‘€œIn 2000, I failed to make the Olympic team, but that allowed me to meet Neil Cornrich, who is my agent. And thanks to him, he got me to the doorstep to the NFL, so thank you Neal. Then, I met coach [Bill] Belchick, and he opened that door, so thank you, coach Belichick. I learned the sport of football and the dedication needed for success in the NFL from Bill and Dante Scarnecchia. The dedication that they showed ‘€” being the first one into the building and the last one to leave is something that’€™s truly amazing and the reason for the success of the Patriots each and every year. So, thank you Dante, for everything. And then having success in this league is only possible with great ownership, and so I want to thank the Kraft family ‘€” they really made me feel like part of the family when i was there.

‘€œAnd it is truly special what happens in New England, and it’€™s something I will definitely miss. The sport of football is a brutal sport, and injuries are part of this game. The training, strength and medical staff here are top notch, and they are a huge factor to my success and the team’€™s success. So thank all of you very much. You helped me stick around for so long.

‘€œOf course, football is not an individual sport. I want to thank each and every teammate and coach who have walked through this building in the last 10 years. They have all helped me to have success in this game, so thank you guys. I want to thank each and every one of you. Without the media and the fans, the sport could not continue at the level it is at, so I’€™d like to thank you for the coverage and the support you have shown me over the years. We definitely have the greatest fans in the country, and being in New England, when the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Pats all have success, it’€™s just a great environment and something I’€™ll never forget.

‘€œI also want to recognize two good friends I made in New England. We have Chris Robertson, who is my go-to guy at Stop and Shop. He’€™s a great guy. Thanks Chris. And Rich Burns, who is a great friend and fan, neighbor, and a great guy. So thank you Rich ‘€” I’€™ll give you a call in a day or two.

‘€œAnd all this is really possible because of my family. My Mom, my Dad ‘€” Mike and Dave, my brothers. They all believed in me and never doubted my dreams. They were always there for me. And my wife Jodee put everything down in Bakersfield to follow me out here to New England. She’€™s been my support through this entire journey. Always there for me after a win, loss, injuries, everything, with her arms wide open. She’€™s there raising our beautiful girls, Colby and Jillian, and our stubborn copy of me, Gunnar. Our little guy. I just can’€™t wait. My family is my new team, and I hope we can go undefeated for the rest of our lives. Thank you guys. Any questions you have, I’€™ll try and help you out.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Darryl Pope, Neil Cornrich

Compared to other teams, how would the Patriots fare if there was a lockout?

03.03.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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When compared to the other 31 teams, the Patriots are actually pretty well situated for the coming lockout, at least when it comes to the on-field product. While other teams with new GMs and coordinators will struggle because they won’€™t be allowed to meet with players and get teams ready for new systems, in New England, there’€™s relative continuity on the coaching staff. The biggest change anticipated for the 2011 season is the fact that Bill O’€™Brien was recently named offensive coordinator ‘€” but he’€™s really been the OC in waiting for the last two seasons, so it’€™s not like the New England will be hamstrung when it comes to installing a new offensive system.

In contrast, there are teams who will likely have issues if there is a lockout. In an interesting piece for, Gregg Rosenthal lists the 32 teams and the challenges that they will face if the clock strikes midnight on Thursday and there’€™s no new Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the Titans (new head coach, major quarterback problems), Broncos (new GM and new coach) and Browns (new coach and young quarterback) as the top 3 teams who will be the most hurt by the lockout and the fact that coaches and GMs will not be able to have contact with players. Rosenthal has the Patriots at No. 29, with only the Steelers, Packers and Colts better prepared for the lockout. Rosenthal says of New England: ‘€œThe weirder the rules are, the more that creative front offices should thrive. The Patriots and other quick-thinking teams can better adapt and sniff out market inefficiencies.’€

Read More: Bill O'Brien, lockout, Patriots,
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