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Sides still far apart in NFL talks

Players looking for more financial information from owners.

March 08, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Players union executive director DeMaurice Smith, left, and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch arrive at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
Players union executive director DeMaurice Smith, left, and Pittsburgh… (Logan Mock-Bunting / Getty…)

The NFL and NFL Players Assn. participated in almost 10 hours of negotiations Tuesday — their longest of 13 mediation sessions — and emerged still far apart on their biggest issue: how to divide the league's $9 billion in annual revenue.

Owners, who currently get $1 billion off the top before the remaining money is divided, are seeking an additional $1 billion to help cover such investments as new stadiums, emerging media opportunities and international initiatives.

The players are resistant to changing the current system, and have been unyielding in asking owners to open their financial books.

"We're being asked to give back almost a billion dollars, so it's important for us to adequately analyze and interpret the little bit of information that's been provided," Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press and NFL Network. "And ultimately, if they're unwilling to provide full audited statements, then we need to know what other information we need to make a sound decision."

The union has hired an international investment bank, one it has declined to identify, to help decide whether the league's offer to share more information is enough to constitute full disclosure.

According to a New York Times report, the union rejected an offer from the owners to turn over audited profitability data from all 32 teams for the last several years. It was the first time owners offered to show more financial data than what is required by the collective bargaining agreement.

The expiration deadline on the current CBA is when Friday turns to Saturday on the East Coast, as the cutoff was pushed back a week to continue mediation in Washington.

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