WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The stakeout scene outside NFLPA headquarters this morning on 20th Street is much less chilly than those lovely March days spent outside the Federal Mediation Center a few blocks away, we are happy to report.
Also, there is a much better chance of something productive happening, more than four months into the NFL lockout. Inside, NFLPA reps are hearing chief DeMaurice Smith's presentation on the proposed agreement to end the lockout, an agreement that apparently is not entirely nailed down in writing, but is close enough to work with.
In reality, if the 32 reps give the go-ahead at some point today, the vote of the general membership, by phone or computer or whatever (strippergram?) is a formality. But no union ever says that, of course, lest the membership feel excluded from the process. So NFLPA President Kevin Mawae dutifully stood in front of the cameras a little while ago, alongside PA spokesman Geroge Atallah, to emphasize that the player reps won't be "approving" the deal, and so on and so forth.
"Our goal today is to see what's on the table, discuss outlying issues that may or may not be there, but make no mistake about it, players are not in a rush -- we're not tied to the timeline of July 21st" Mawae said, with the owners apparently hoping to approve the deal tomorrow in Atlanta. "Our timeline is that which gives us the deal that's the best deal for our players, be it today or tomorrow or whenever it may be. We want to go back to work, but we're not going to agree to any deal unless it's the right deal for all the players."
That last part was taken as an allusion to reports that the main plaintiffs in the antitrust suit against the league want individual considerations, such as not being franchised this year, concessions that seem unlikely to be granted. (And concessions that likely would make those guys pariahs if they really torpedoed the deal.)
"Our main plaintiffs have to agree to whatever settlement we come up with," Mawae said. "At the end of the day, the deal we're working on is the best for all the players in the NFL, and not just four guys."
Good job fulfilling your obligations there, Kev. Now get back inside the building and hammer this baby home.