Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that a secretive conference call between NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and “elite” members of the rank and file have dampened the hope that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached before we all fire up our sparklers this weekend.
According to Glazer, 50 Pro Bowlers were asked to participate in the Tuesday night call, and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew were two of the participants.
One unidentified player on the call disclosed that years to unrestricted free agency, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported is expected to revert back to four years of serve, continues to be an issue in the negotiations.
“At one point, we were asked if we could sell six years of free agency to our locker rooms and we all said there’s no way,” the player told FOXSports.com. “We heard about that and the (issue of) retired players — and that is even before we start talking about splitting the revenue.”
Glazer’s report certainly has a “Debbie Downer” feel to it. Last night’s report from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were flying to Florida together to appear this morning at the NFLPA’s “Business of Football: Rookie Edition” symposium fueled optimism that a deal was near. That was followed by today’s report from the NFL Network that owners and players were re-joining talks in Minneapolis.
The report also sound very familiar to Pro Football Talk’s report last Thursday where, in a conference call with players, Smith downplayed the reported progress the two sides were making in these not-so-secretive talks.