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Kevin Mawae: Not so fast on that labor deal

07.20.11 at 4:02 pm ET
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With so many people predicting – and hoping for – the end of the four-month NFL lockout by the weekend, veteran offensive lineman and a lead negotiator for the NFL Players Association Kevin Mawae warned Wednesday that players are “not tied” to a deadline to get the NFL up and running again.

It had been thought after significant progress had been made late last week that a new CBA was just a matter of finalizing details between lawyers for both players and owners, and further that a deal would be in place for owners to ratify at their meeting in Atlanta on Thursday.

Mawae, 39, and himself a free agent, told reporters Wednesday they won’t push through a deal in the next 24 hours without answering the questions of all players and listening to all concerns.

“We want to go back to work, but we will not agree to a deal unless it’s the best deal for the players.” Mawae said Wednesday outside NFLPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Indeed, NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora reported late Wednesday afternoon on his twitter page that there would be no ratification vote by players on Wednesday.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’re still hashing it out,” NFLPA rep Tony Richardson told reporters as he left the NFLPA headquarters in Washington.

If the NFL wants to keep to its plan of playing nearly the entire preseason schedule and keep from losing hundreds of millions of dollars every weekend, they would need a resolution within the week, allowing teams to sign free agents, hold training camps and otherwise prepare for the 2011 season.

The Rams and Bears are slated to open the preseason Aug. 7 in the Hall of Fame game.

NFLPA executive committee members from all 32 teams met in Washington Wednesday, ready to review and vote on a full agreement. Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and nine of the 10 members of the owners’ labor committee arrived at a hotel near the Atlanta airport on Wednesday, so they could decide whether to recommend a finalized proposal to all club owners, who are due to be there Thursday.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is on the labor committee, wasn’t expected to participate because his wife, Myra, died Wednesday, at age 68, after a battle with cancer.

If a vote is held Thursday, at least 24 would need to ratify a new CBA. If it’s passed by both sides, team executives would be schooled later that day and Friday in Atlanta in the guidelines and how to apply them; topics would include the 2011 NFL calendar, rookie salary system and new free agency rules.

“Our goal today is to see what is on the table and discuss outlying issues,” Mawae said. “The players are not tied to a July 21 timeline. Our timeline is that which gives us the best deal for the players — today, tomorrow or whatever it might be.”

Two people familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press that players and owners were expected to review a potential agreement by midday Wednesday. Another person, however, said there still were issues to be resolved.

All three people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the process was supposed to remain confidential.

The NFLPA’s executive committee reviewed only portions of a potential agreement Tuesday, with not enough information to warrant a vote yet.

There still were unresolved issues Tuesday, including what it would take to get the 10 plaintiffs — including quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Patriots guard Logan Mankins — to sign off on a settlement to their antitrust lawsuit against the NFL that is pending in federal court in Minnesota.

“Obviously, there’s the litigation with the named plaintiffs, and I am not familiar with the whole legal part of it. … But at the end of the day,” Mawae said, “the deal we are working on is the deal that’s best for all the players in the NFL, and not just four guys.”

On Tuesday, Jackson tweeted: “I have made no demands, I wanna play ball like the rest of my peers!”

Another pending dispute has been the TV networks case – the so-called “Doty” case, in which players accused owners of setting up $4 billion in “lockout insurance” as leverage in the event the lockout dragged on.

Read More: Kevin Mawae, Logan Mankins, New England Patriots, nfl
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