National Football League player representatives plan to vote tomorrow on a labor agreement already approved by NFL owners, two people familiar with the players’ decision said today.
The people, who requested anonymity because they were not able to discuss the situation publicly, said the NFL Players Association was trying to clear up final details today on the 10-year agreement in preparation for a vote tomorrow.
Association spokesman Carl Francis said in an email message that he could neither confirm nor deny that the player representatives would meet and vote tomorrow.
Player representatives sent a letter to the NFL’s 1,900 players two days ago telling them to “keep doing what you are doing where you are doing it” while union officials studied the proposed settlement during the weekend.
“We will meet again on Monday to discuss our options and the direction we want to go,” said the letter, which ESPN obtained.
ESPN reported today that the players association plans a news conference for Monday. ESPN and the NFL Network reported that members of the player representatives’ executive committee planned to fly to Washington today so they could vote tomorrow.
Owners approved the deal 31-0, with the Oakland Raiders abstaining, two days ago at a meeting in Atlanta. If players also support the package, it would allow the U.S.’s richest and most watched sports league to reopen for business this week after a four-month shutdown.
The deal would cap team payrolls at about $120 million this season, with players receiving another $22 million or so in benefits, according to a copy of the agreement released by the NFL. The players must receive at least 47 percent of the league’s revenue, projected at a record $9.3 billion in 2011, throughout the 10 years of the package.
The agreement also would include a new rookie pay system that limits how much teams can spend on first-year players. Current players may stay in the league’s medical plan for life and will have more days off, with fewer offseason practices. The deal also would provide between $900 million and $1 billion for retiree benefits.
The NFL in March locked out players, who dissolved their union and sued in federal court, claiming antitrust violations and wage fixing, led by Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
The work stoppage, which ended 24 years of labor peace, began about five weeks after the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in the Super Bowl title game that drew the largest television audience in U.S. history.
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