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NFL lockout: Owners, players working on different timetables

July 21, 2011 |  2:45 pm

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NFL owners could vote Thursday to ratify a new labor agreement, but that doesn’t mean the lockout will be lifted.

Why? Because the players are operating on a different timetable and say they won’t be rushed into a decision.

Although the sides are in agreement on the major economic components of a deal, the players say they need time –- perhaps as much as two weeks –- to complete the process as re-forming as a union. They want the owners to lift the lockout as soon as a player vote is taken to resolve the antitrust case.

But owners want a signed labor agreement before they reopen the league for business.

That procedural snag could result in the owners provisionally approving an agreement but the doors staying locked tight.

So why are the players making such a big deal out of the recertification process and taking pains to be extra careful at this stage?

One theory is that if they instantly re-unionize, as the owners would have them do, it would only buttress the argument that their decertification was a sham. It would help prove the league’s argument that the players conveniently said they weren’t a union merely to gain leverage in the courtroom -– break apart in a snap, re-form in a snap.

That would make it far more difficult to use the decertification strategy when the next labor deal comes up in 10 years.

This could be the first battle in a war that won’t truly be fought for a decade.

RELATED:

Owners plan to vote, players plan to talk

Waiting on players' vote

Retired players won't hold up deal

Lockout put rookie free agents in limbo

-- Sam Farmer in Atlanta

Photo: DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players' Assn., arrives at labor talks in New York City on July 15. Credit: Richard Drew / Associated Press

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