The NFL owners and players’ union are gradually inching their way towards a new collective bargaining agreement after wrapping up more meetings on June 24. Both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, were on hand when the two sides got together in Hull, Massachusetts, and both of them said they’re committed to getting a deal done before the season’s scheduled to start.
NFL sources said the league’s rookie pay system was discussed for the first time and it was also the first time Smith and Goodell got together and delivered a public statement since the players were locked out about three months ago.
However, Goodell said the league is under a court order so he can only discuss certain matters with the press. But he did manage to say that everybody is working hard on coming to a solution, but things are still complex and complicated and he can understand if fans are frustrated at the lack of progress.
Smith told the press that both sides are optimistic since they’ve been talking about the most important issues. He also said things are complicated and it’s still going to take a lot of hard work by everybody to get a new agreement in place.
Several of the league’s owners were present at the meeting along with their legal representatives as well as numerous players, but most of them declined to make any comment other than saying that things were progressing.
However, Mark Clayton, a wide receiver with the St. Louis Rams, said that things were looking pretty good at the moment, but the players are set on what they’re after and are determined to get it. He added that many of the things the players have been asking for have been agreed upon except for the financial ones.
The league and players have now met four times since the end of May. They got together in Chicago from May 31 to June 2, in Long Island, N.Y., on June 7-8, in Maryland on June 14-15 and the get together in Massachusetts on June 24.
It’s expected that the two sides will continue to meet on a regular basis until a new collective bargaining agreement can be banged out. Compared to the ongoing NBA negotiations with its players, the NFL and the football players’ union seem to be making quite a bit more progress.