Two days of talks between NFL owners and players on South Shore leave both sides cautiously optimistic
|06.24.11 at 12:46 am ET|
Two more days of talks between NFL players and owners wrapped up Thursday afternoon with both sides expressing cautious optimism that a deal may be near.
Speaking after sessions wrapped up at the Nantasket Beach Resort in Hull, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith each addressed the media, and both sounded positive, but also talked in realistic tones about the challenges that lie ahead if they want to bring an end to the lockout.
“Someone asked me whether I was optimistic — I think we’re both optimistic when we have the right people in the room,” Smith said. “We know we’re talking about the right issues and that we’re working hard to get it done.
“It is extremely complicated, it requires a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but we’re committed to getting something done and we’re going to keep working at it,” he added.
“You obviously know we met over the last couple of days. We are under court order as far as what we can discuss, so our comments will be brief. But obviously we’re all working hard,” Goodell said. “The players and owners were here over the last two days. De and I were here for the entire meetings also. And it’s complicated and it’s complex, but we’re working hard and we understand the fans’ frustration. But I think both of us feel strongly that we’re going to continue to work hard at it.”
Including Smith and Goodell, the majority of important people needed to reach a deal were in attendance for the bulk of the two days. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, players involved in the talks this week included Baltimore’s Domonique Foxworth, Tony Richardson of the New York Jets and Indianapolis’ Jeff Saturday, Meanwhile, owners Jerry Richardson (Carolina), Clark Hunt (Kansas City), Robert Kraft (Patriots), John Mara (New York Giants) and Dean Spanos (San Diego) were also part of the session.
The sessions that occurred over the last two days were the fourth series of “secret meetings” between the players and owners. The sides met from May 31 until June 2 in suburban Chicago, June 7th and 8th on Long Island and June 14th and 15th in a Washington D.C. suburb on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Aiello tweeted Thursday afternoon that “the talks will continue,” and according to NFL.com, there will be another series of talks next week, with the NFLPA staging its rookie symposium concurrently in Florida.
According to the Associated Press, the players and owners have exchanged proposals recently on a variety of issues, with the main point being how to go about dividing $9.3 billion in revenues. League owners were reportedly briefed this week on a plan that would give the players roughly 48 percent of total income. An off-the-top expense credit of about $1 billion that went to the owners is also something that could be eliminated. In addition, there is reportedly also talk of a “salary floor,” which would keep teams within 90 percent of the cap.
While an increased urgency has started to permeate the talks — training camps are now expected to start in just over a month, and much has to happen between now and then for camps to open on time — for the first time since the lockout began in March, there seems to be a real sense of trust and understanding that’s starting to grow between the two sides as they try and bring the longest work stoppage in NFL history to an end.
“We’re working hard — we understand the fans’ frustration. I know our players’ frustration,” Smith said. “We’re going to keep working hard and try to make sure we get a deal done.”
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