Update 5:27 p.m. As we predicted, something went. The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora confirmed an earlier Associated Press report that players won't be voting on the new deal tonight, pushing in the timeline below back one day, at the least. This doesn't mean the deal is unraveling, says ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who notes on Twitter that the player representatives gave NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith a "'vote of confidence'" before departing Washington, and the final vote can be conducted on the phone. According to Mortensen, the delay stemmed from the union not having "the completed document with unresolved issues they are working on with owners" in-hand.
Original post Pro football's 127-day work stoppage is living on borrowed time. And while some folks (like the Green Bay Packers) have gone ahead and jumped the gun with stories breaking down the terms of the NFL's new labor deal, it's worth noting that nothing is in place as of Wednesday. There's still at least three days worth of t-crossing, i-dotting minutia for both sides to agree to. We don't need to tell you it could explode at any time, because that's what labor truces do. But what needs to happen over the next 36 hours to end the lockout is pretty clear. Again, this is assuming things haven't already combusted by the time you're reading this post.
- Right now Representatives from the 13-man NFL Players Association (NFLPA) executive committee are in the process of "debriefing both the lead and alternate player representatives from each team on the proposed new collective bargaining agreement," write ESPN NFL reporters Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. "The lead reps for each team are in Washington at NFLPA headquarters. Those representatives not there are taking part in a conference call." As of last night, a full agreement in principle wasn't completed... as some had hoped it would be," noted the Associated Press earlier today, adding "another person familiar with the talks said there was no guarantee a full document would be finished Wednesday, either." That hasn't stopped the NFLPA from scheduling "a vote on a proposed deal that would include a new collective bargaining agreement and settlement of all legal issues later Wednesday," Schefter reports.
- "Later" If the 32 player reps accept the executive committee's recommendation,the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement will be put to a vote before the rest of the league. NFL Network's Albert Breer points out that before that can happen, the NFLPA must first recertify as a union (it's been operating as a trade association since decertifying just before the lockout began in March, which enabled players to file antitrust suits against the league). According to Breer, recertification "requires all 1,900 players to vote, a simple majority to pass, and could be done by e-mail or phone." (Player reps, like old-time ward bosses, are keeping close tabs on their teammates whereabouts today.) After that, they'd all vote on the new CBA, which also requires a majority to pass.
- Schefter reports that the "[t]he NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams Monday instructing key executives to attend Thursday's owners meeting in Atlanta." Like the players, the teams will be getting a recommendation from the league's labor negotiation committee, which includes owners Jerry Richardson, Jerry Jones, Bob Kraft, Clark Hunt, Art Rooney II, and John Mara, about whether to accept the proposal. 24 of the 32 franchises have to vote yes for the deal to pass. The lockout, at this point, will be over , but the race to make up for lost time is only just beginning.
- Players under contract will be allowed back into team facilities. the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are supposed to open training camp Friday, but that isn't going to happen, says Mike Freeman of CBS Sports. "Teams would probably have a few days to digest the new rules that will govern personnel moves," predicts the New York Times's Judy Battista, "and probably early next week they will begin signing undrafted rookie players and re-signing their free agents." Teams slated to open training camp face much less uncertainty, and The Kansas City Star notes officials at Missouri Western college are anticipating an on-time arrival from the Kansas City Chiefs next Thursday. Who they're camping with will be a question that stretches beyond this week. "With hundreds of players who have no contracts hitting the market," writes Battista, "this free-agent period will be unlike any other in the N.F.L. — a frenzied set of trades and new contracts that are usually spread out over four months of the off-season, funneled into just a few weeks."
The 2011 regular season begins in 50 days.