As such, all eyes are now moving to a hotel near Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The meeting of the owners today in Chicago could be the biggest single factor in whether a deal gets done soon and the 2011 season is able to essentially come off as scheduled.
Green Bay is sending its usual contingent of president Mark Murphy, vice president of administration/general counsel Jason Wied and vide president of football administration/player finance Russ Ball, according to team spokesman Aaron Popkey.
Annually, one of the precursors of an NFL season is for owners to get together approximately once a month before its start to clear out the business of the NFL. They vote on rules changes, they discuss issues of specific interest to a handful of teams or issues facing the league as a whole. However, these meetings are typically brief and, depending on where they are scheduled, are often "in-and-out" affairs that start and end on the same day, and 32 pilots that flew the owners in barely have time for lunch before they're back in the plane prepping it for the return flight.
This one is different. Very different. Last week, owners were told to prepare to spend at least one night in Chicago. Several owners, league executives and lawyers arrived Monday morning and the league's labor committee met Monday afternoon for two hours to get the latest offer in front of the full ownership contingent today.
The last meeting of all 32 owners came in May. Since then, the league and players association representatives have met in secret three times. Then again, considering we all know the dates and locations of the meetings, they may not have been that secret after all. But progress has been made for the approximately 80 percent of owners that haven't taken part in the clandestine meetings. There is going to be a lot of information imparted and, for the first time, the owners that have been negotiating the peace will face the owners that haven't been part of the give-and-take. That could pose a problem.
For the NFL ownership to agree to a proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, a 75 percent majority is required. With 32 teams, that equates to 24 votes to reach an agreement. While the ownership group has represented all of the owners, there may be a few "hard-liners" that believe the players will cave once the threat of missing paychecks becomes more realistic. It is a possibility, but, in many ways, a billion-dollar game of Russian Roulette.
Are there enough disenchanted owners to knock the new CBA out of the water? The players seem unified in wanting a set of basic goals. Their level of approval is markedly lower than the owners, although, when it finally comes, expect to see a near-unanimous vote (one way or the other) from players. In an era where being "rogue" and "a maverick" are good things, could there be enough discontent with the offer that is going to be presented to derail the process.
For the owners to shoot down a CBA proposal, it would only take nine votes. That's not too many, but it's enough … and could be the biggest hurdle of all in getting this lockout mess resolved and everyone back on the same page of bringing fans the only sport they crave.
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