Time crawls: NFL delays deadline until 11 p.m.
March 8, 2006
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The NFL delayed another deadline on Wednesday.
A little more than two hours before the latest deadline to accept or turn down the NFL Players Association's offer to extend the labor agreement, the owners pushed it back again. This time they extended the deadline for teams to get under the salary cap by two hours, from 9 p.m. EST until 11 p.m.
With that, the owners kept talking as they tried to resolve the sticky issue of expanded revenue sharing that has tied them up for two years. The additional money it would generate is considered the best way the owners can accede to the union's request for just less than 60 percent of the league's total revenues.
NFL spokesman Joe Browne, in announcing the deadline change, said it was made to give additional time to reach agreement on the complicated plans on which they are working. The 8 p.m. EST deadline for informing the union whether the owners accept or reject their proposal stands, although there was some question whether the league might be switching time zones -- Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the players union was in Hawaii, where 8 p.m. would be 1 a.m EST.
The owners' marathon meeting started Tuesday and ended with labor peace nowhere in sight.
Earlier Wednesday, there was still clearly no consensus.
Jerry Jones of Dallas, the leader of the group opposing revenue sharing, said he was dismayed by developments. Indianapolis' Jim Irsay, one of the spokesmen for the low-revenue teams that want help from the richer teams suggested the league needed a consensus builder like the late Wellington Mara of the New York Giants, the last of the NFL's founding generation, who died last October.
"We need the ghost of St. Wellington to appear with some of the forefathers," Irsay said.
Despite the latest delay, free agency, twice delayed, is still scheduled to begin Thursday at 12:01 a.m. EST if owners turn down the union's offer. If they approve it, free agency will start Friday.
Meanwhile, there was as much lobbying going on as discussion.
At the lunch break, Mara's son John, along with Jerry Richardson of Carolina and Pat Bowlen of Denver met with commissioner Paul Tagliabue in an attempt to find a way to build a consensus. All three are considered "league" men, owners who will do what they think is best for the league, something Tagliabue urged during Tuesday's session.
They seemed to be aligned, somewhat surprisingly, with Oakland's Al Davis, a maverick with a long history of court fights with the league. "I love my country and I love my league," Davis said repeatedly.
The Associated Press News Service
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this sucks another delay