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A quick look at the major points being discussed in the talks between NFL players, owners

03.03.11 at 8:00 am ET
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As the countdown begins to midnight — when the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expires — negotiations are scheduled to continue throughout the day. Here’s a look at the major sticking points between the players and the owners:

•The owners want to move from a 16-game regular-season slate to an 18-game regular-season schedule, with a change from four preseason games to two. The players are against the idea because of financial and injury reasons. This is a huge sticking point, one the players agree almost unanimously on. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady weighed in on the idea of an 18-game schedule.

“I’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. “Look 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.”

•The owners want a bigger slice of the nearly $9 billion in revenue that’s generated annually. The owners are given $1 billion off the top of that for operating expenses, a number agreed to in the 2006 CBA. Of the rest of the approximately $8 billion, 60 percent (roughly $5 billion) goes to the players and 40 percent goes to the owners (just over $4 billion). The owners want more of this money — another $1 billion off the top for stadium expenses and other expenditures to help “grow the game” — and the players to take the same amount.

•The two sides sound closest over the idea of a rookie wage scale. The owners want to reduce the borderline insane rookie bonuses, and veterans have quietly resented the megabuck deals that have been handed out to unproven rookies. However, the idea of where the money should go — instead of to the rookies — is a point of debate. Players propose limiting contracts to three years, with the savings going to veteran players, pensions and health care, while owners are looking for rookies to be attached to their rookie deals for three years and to increase the amount of time it takes players to reach free agency.

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