As the two sides in the NFL labor dispute work toward ending the lockout, a small group of players met Monday with their attorneys in Minneapolis.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the players’ side met on its own, without owners. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no labor developments are being made public.
Players were told in conference calls that there will be more negotiations this week involving Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, several owners and players at an undisclosed location.
Previous meetings between the sides took place in suburban Chicago, New York, the Maryland shore and Hull, Mass., about 18 miles south of Boston.
The players have an antitrust suit against the league that was filed in Minneapolis, and the city also is where the sides met for court-ordered mediation in May.
The lockout began on March 12, and players — except for when the work stoppage was briefly lifted in April — have not been allowed to train at team facilities or be in contact with any of their coaches. Players on several teams have gathered on their own, trying to keep in football shape so they’ll be prepared to get back to business on the field whenever the labor impasse is over.
“It’s not about getting a deal done as quickly as possible, it’s about getting a fair deal done,” said Houston linebacker DeMeco Ryans, one of the team’s representatives who worked out Monday with other Texans players. “Whenever that time comes, when a fair deal is on the table, that’s when it will get done. We’re not in a big panic to get something done, just for the sake of getting it done.”
The key issue in the dispute centers on how to divide revenues after the league took in about $9.3 billion last year. One person familiar with the owners’ proposal told the AP last week that the players’ share would approach the 50 percent mark the NFLPA has said it has received throughout the last decade. But the expense credits — about $1 billion last year — that the league takes off t he top would disappear.
Also, there would no longer be “designated revenues” from which the players would share. Instead, the players would share from the entire pool of income, which both sides project will grow significantly over the course of a new collective bargaining agreement.
A salary floor requiring teams to spend within 90 percent of the cap in cash also would be included.
Training camps are scheduled to open in about a month, and the first preseason game — Chicago vs. St. Louis — is scheduled for Aug. 7 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions in Canton, Ohio.
“Hopefully, everything gets worked out quickly so we can get to training camp on time and get guys back to work and have a full season,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said in a telephone interview with the AP. “That’s what the fans want. Obviously, they are the ones that make this possible, so hopefully we can get it done for them.”