Reports from the Associated Press and Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network now indicate that the NFLPA's labor committee will not vote on the proposal to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement from the players' side. Player representatives from all 32 teams met with the members of the NFLPA at the Players Association's headquarters in Washington on Wednesday morning, and through the day, and it was thought that a vote ratifying the new deal would take place.
However, it is now believed that complications arising from the length and breadth of the agreement, as well as the difficulties arising from the settlements in the Brady v. NFL case and lockout insurance damages have delayed the process. Other reports indicate that the players' side has agreed to act on the lawsuit settlement, but that processing the unresolved issues in the new CBA have gummed up the works.
This was indicated by NFLPA president Kevin Mawae on Wednesday morning, when Mawae made it very clear that he would not issue an edict to vote on any agreement that the governing body representing the players was not satisfied with. There is a 51 percent majority required for a player approval, but putting the new agreement to a vote, then agreeing to a global settlement of all outstanding legal issues, and then having the named plaintiffs in the Brady lawsuit … well, that's where the complexities come in.
"Make no mistake — the players are not tied to a timeline of July 21," Mawae said. "Our timeline is that which gets the best deal for our players. Whether that's today or tomorrow, whatever it may be. We want to play football and 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.
"We're in a good place in that all our guys are here. If a decision needs to be made, it can be made. But the process is what we need to worry about. Today's meeting with our board is not to OK a deal and move forward — our board is here so that if the deal in its totality is the right deal, they will then propose it to the rest of the players of the NFL."
The problem is, not all of the player reps are in attendance anymore. Through Wednesday, several players reps left the building, ostensibly with their proxy approval and with travel plans to fulfill. A conditional vote was taken, based on certain unknown parameters being met, and Mark Maske of the Washington Post indicates that the player reps are ready to hand this over to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith and the executive committee for the final work. Discussions will likely continue in Washington through the night and into Thursday, but where the narrative switches is that when the owners meetings begin in Atlanta on Thursday, the owners could actually vote the new CBA into effect before the NFLPA does, leaving the players on the hook to put the league year into motion.
Voting on, and approving, the CBA could put additional political pressure on the Players Association from a public relations perspective. Because there's one thing for sure -- the longer this draws out at this point, the more that the court of public opinion will swing away from the side looking to delay the process.