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NFL owners approve new CBA package by a vote of 31-0

07.21.11 at 7:06 pm ET
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The NFL owners voted Thursday night to approve the new Collective Bargaining Agreement by a vote of 31-0, with only the Oakland Raiders abstaining, according to the NFL Network. The focus now shifts to the players, who are scheduled to have a conference call with NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith and all 32 player representatives at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued the follow statement after the vote was made public:

‘€œWe are pleased to announce that our clubs have approved the terms of a long-term negotiated agreement with the NFL players,’€ said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. ‘€œIt includes many positive changes that emerged from a spirit of compromise rooted in doing what is best for the game and players. DeMaurice Smith and his team, and the players and owners involved in the negotiations, deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism. If approved by the players, this agreement will allow the league and its players to continue to benefit from the NFL’€™s popularity and will afford a unique opportunity to deliver to fans an even better, safer, and more competitive game in the future.

‘€œOn behalf of the NFL, our teams and players, I want to express our deep appreciation to Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. Judge Boylan was the court-appointed mediator, but his contributions far exceeded that role. His patience, determination, and commitment helped keep everyone focused on the goal, and helped lead us to today’€™s announcement.’€

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, lockout, roger goodell,

NFLPA: Everything is cool between us and Logan Mankins

07.21.11 at 6:42 pm ET
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According to the NFLPA, Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins has reached out in an attempt to clear the air over the report that he was seeking either $10 million or unrestricted free agency in exchange for dropping the Brady vs. NFL lawsuit. The NFLPA issued the following statement late Thursday evening via NFLLockout.com:

“The NFLPA leadership has been in touch with Logan Mankins. He and the NFLPA are disappointed by unnamed and unsourced reports in the media that he asked for any financial compensation to be a named plaintiff in the Brady case. Any contention that he would put himself ahead of the other players in this league are baseless.  He reaffirmed his support for a fair settlement that is good for ALL players and members of the class.”

Mankins and San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson, two of the 10 plaintiffs in the suit, were denied unrestricted free agency during the 2010 uncapped season, and both sat out a sizable chunk of the season as a result. (Jackson and Mankins were among a group of players who have had to wait six years to reach unrestricted free agency because of previous rules.) Jackson tweeted earlier this week that he has ‘€œmade no demands, I wanna play ball like the rest of my peers!’€

Read More: lockout, Logan Mankins, Vincent Jackson,

What does recertification for the NFLPA mean and how long could it take?

07.21.11 at 4:35 pm ET
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While the football world waits on the possible recertification of the National Football League Players Association, there remain questions as to what the recertification process involves and how long it will take. NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith spoke with the media early Thursday afternoon about the process, and didn’t sound like someone who thinks immediate recertification is a done deal.

“Every individual person has to make a decision about whether they want to be part of a union,” Smith said. “The individual decision is something that our players take extremely serious[ly].

“I know there are a lot of things swirling out there, and I certainly remember comments from some of the owners about how we might not even be like a real union. Well, guess what? The decision to decertify was important, because at the time we were a real union and the decision for our players as men to come back as a union, is going to be an equally serious and very sober one that they have to make.”

Sports legal expert Michael McCann, the director of the Sports Law Institute at the Vermont Law School and the distinguished visiting Hall of Fame Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law, says that recertification is in the best interests of both sides, but both the players and owners are having their issues with the process.

The league needs the players to recertify for several reasons, not the least of which is that it would help them avoid the possible violation of antitrust laws. Meanwhile, the players are concerned that if they immediately recertify, that would give credence to the NFL’s argument that the whole decertification process that took place in March was a sham in the first place.

“Legally, the two sides could agree without recertification, but it’s in both of their best interest agree to wait until that’s done,” said McCann, who has written about the lockout extensively for SI.com.

Then, there remain questions about how the recertification process would work. One report indicated that the players needed to get the individual signatures of the roughly 1,900 players, while other reports indicate that it could be done electronically. (One player wondered about the possibility of carrier pigeons being used to distribute the ballots.) McCann said that it’s a different process with different unions, but in his experience it’s something that should be able to, “be done pretty quickly, unless the players are incommunicado or something like that.”

“There are a lot of players ‘€” it’€™s a big group. I don’t know how long it would take per se, but I don’€™t think this would take months,” he said. “If in fact they’ve reached a deal and it’€™s just a matter of them endorsing it as players, I think the recertification vote could be done quickly.”

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, lockout, Michael McCann,

Mankins agent: We never sought $10 million in compensation

07.21.11 at 4:01 pm ET
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Logan Mankins never made any monetary demands and is not holding up any potential settlement between the players and the owners, according to a statement made by his agent Frank Bauer to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

Mankins, who was one of 10 plaintiffs in the Brady vs. NFL suit, was reportedly seeking $10 million or unrestricted free agency for agreeing to drop the lawsuit. However, Bauer told Mortensen that’€™s certainly not the case.

“I think it’€™s really unfair what has happened to Logan Mankins in media characterizations that he is making monetary demands or holding up a settlement. Logan Mankins is a young man who was encouraged and solicited into a lawsuit to help the union spearhead a new agreement. Logan’€™s main concern for entering into as a plaintiff was to see if he can become free and help other players have less restrictions. For people to say he has made monetary demands, he hasn’€™t made any such demand. We don’€™t know terms. We haven’€™t talked to [NFLPA attorney] Jeff Kessler. There has been no communication but it’€™s irresponsible to report Logan has made monetary demands.

“Are we disappointed there has been no communication? Hugely. He trusted the union and Kessler to fight for Logan Mankins and the other players.”

Mankins and San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson, two of the 10 plaintiffs in the suit, were denied unrestricted free agency during the 2010 uncapped season, and both sat out a sizable chunk of the season as a result. (Jackson and Mankins were among a group of players who have had to wait six years to reach unrestricted free agency because of previous rules.) Jackson tweeted earlier this week that he has, “made no demands, I wanna play ball like the rest of my peers!”

Read More: Frank Bauer, Logan Mankins, Vincent Jackson,

Smith: NFLPA discussing recertification

07.21.11 at 3:08 pm ET
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The NFL Players association is discussing recertification, as NFL Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said Thursday in Washington D.C. Recertification is viewed as one of the stumbling blocks to ending the lockout, which is in its 128th day.

Smith noted that individual decisions for individual players to reconstitute are things that “our players take extremely seriously.”

“I know that there’s a lot of things swirling out there, and I certainly remember comments from some of the owners about how we might not even be like a real union, well guess what? The decision to decertify was important, because at the time, we were a real union,” Smith said. “The decision by the players, as men, to come back into the union is going to be an equally serious and sober one that they have to make.”

Jonathan Kraft: Support after Myra Kraft’s death didn’t have ‘anything to do with football’

07.21.11 at 2:44 pm ET
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Patriots president Jonathan Kraft was in Atlanta Thursday representing the franchise as the owners met in an attempt to end the NFL work stoppage. But Kraft took a few moments to address reporters on the recent passing of his mother Myra Kraft at the age of 68 after her battle with cancer.

Myra Kraft may be instantly recognized as the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but Jonathan stated, as many who knew Myra personally have said before him, that that is not how she will be remembered.

‘€œIt’€™s difficult for the family,” Kraft told reporters. “But we were so heartened by everybody in New England and around the world. The outpouring of support was so humbling for my family and such a great testament to the legacy my mother left. My mother enjoyed going to football games and became passionate about the Patriots. But what she was most passionate about in life was trying to help touch the lives of others and help people lead better lives and in turn those people helping other people lead better lives, the exponential effect of that was what was very important to her. I think with this huge outpouring of support we saw yesterday, I don’€™t think that had anything to do with football. I think that had to do with her work in her 68 years on this planet.”

He added that perhaps the Kraft name would not be as big as it is without the work of his mother.

“I think anything my father has achieved in life, I know he would say this is a joint achievement between he and my mother,” Jonathan said. “She played a major role in everything he did and my family did. To the extent we’€™ve been fortunate to achieve anything, she is a major, if not the major, factor in that.”

To see Kraft make his statements, click here. Funeral services for Myra Kraft will be held Friday at Temple Emmanuel in Newton Centre, Mass. In lieu of flowers, the Kraft family has asked that donations be made in her name at the Myra Kraft Giving Back Scholarship Fund at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.

Read More: Jonathan Kraft, Myra Kraft,

Latest lockout news: NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith reportedly holding conference call Thursday night with player reps

07.21.11 at 12:56 pm ET
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Here’s the latest lockout news, as of early Thursday afternoon:

NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith has asked player representatives from all 32 teams to be available for a conference call Thursday night, according to Mike Lombardi from the NFL Network. (The players have yet to sign off on the details of the new plan.) Meanwhile, owners began meetings in Atlanta at approximately 10 a.m. and are still meeting in hopes of ratifying a “global settlement” on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. According to multiple reports, the owners will leave Atlanta Thursday evening and fly to Boston for the funeral of Myra Kraft, the wife of Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft.

However, even if both sides are able to sign off on an agreement on Thursday, there remains a question about how quickly league business could begin once an agreement is reached. The owners are hoping for an immediate restart, while the NFLPA could run into a snag because they need to re-constitute as a union, a process that could reportedly take as long as two weeks. (The union was decertified in March when the lockout was put in place.) One report indicated that the NFLPA would need to mail out and receive voting cards from a majority of the roughly 1,900 NFL players.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, lockout, Mike Lombardi, Myra Kraft
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