This weekend was supposed to mark the return of the NFL. Instead, the league remains in limbo, its lockout still in place as players decide what step to take next.
Players on Friday did not vote on a labor deal approved by owners, meaning that league doors will not re-open on Saturday, as owners had hoped. Without word from the executive board of the NFL Players Association, players cannot begin reporting to team facilities. The start of free agency is also likely to be delayed from its projected Wednesday start.
It was unclear when, or if, players would vote on the plan approved 31-0 by owners on Thursday, but what was obvious was that more talks and time would be needed to end the lockout owners imposed March 12.
One player letter, obtained by ESPN, indicated that players would not meet again until Monday, though later reports said the sides would keep working over the weekend and that there was no specific timetable for action by the players. That leaves the door open to both a weekend breakthrough and inaction into next week.
As always with the lockout, the situation was fluid and could quickly change. But as of 6:30 p.m. Friday, there had been no player action, so the lockout was only half over. We'll see when, or if, that changes.
Enjoy the weekend, NFL fans.
The league's labor strife looks like it will extend through Saturday and Sunday.
The NFLPA sent an e-mail to players Friday afternoon that implied they would not meet again until Monday. So that liklely means there won't be a vote on the owners' proposal for a labor agreement over the weekend.
Here's the e-mail in full, obtained by ESPN:
"Guys, to keep you abreast of the latest developments, we are reviewing the latest proposal for a settlement. Because of the passing of Myra Kraft in Boston, the NFLPA will not be making any public statements in honor of the Kraft family.
"Our recommendation is for everyone to stay put and keep doing what you are doing where you are doing it. We will meet again Monday to discuss our options and the direction we want to go. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Your player reps."
When the owners voted in favor of the new collective bargaining agreement on Thursday, the NFL calendar was set to begin on Saturday, with teams prepared to open their doors and begin constructing their free agency plans.
But the delay on the players' vote has now pushed back the start of business likely until Wednesday, based on the initial plan. If the players were to vote in favor of the deal on Monday -- still a big if -- the Eagles could conceivably open the NovaCare Complex to their players two days later. They would then be permitted to sign their own free agents, talk with other free agents and discuss players trades with other teams.
After a 72-hour window, the league year would then begin on July 31, and teams would be allowed to sign free agents, make trades, and likely start training camp.
At this point, however, setting dates is purely speculative.