Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady are the three most high profile plaintiffs in the anti-trust litigation against the NFL. Until now, it has been Drew Brees who has been the vocal leader of the players to the media. Today, all three released a joint statement regarding the negotiations and what it comes down to is what you with to interpret. Or rather what the owners wish to interpret.
"“We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done. This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way,”"
The statement can be taken as a positive notion that talks have become so fruitful that a deal is immenently close and that both sides just need to sit down and say “done”!
The statement is also being read by some as the players making the profound declaration that they have given up all they are going to give and that this is the final offer on the table, take it or leave it.
However we, as fans wish to take it is only self serving as we do not have a place at the table any more than the employees of teams who have slashed their pay. In reality, the only interpretation that matters is the one that the owners make. Today, 6 of the 32 NFL owners are present at the negotiations. They are represented by what many consider the top 6 owners with the most pull. On the players side, 4 players were supposed to be present, and Drew Brees reportedly will join the fray as well.
What does all this mean? Well, nothing really. The two sides continue to haggle over two issues. Right of first refusal that would allow teams to match a contract offered by another team to “X” amount of free agents this year and next and the rookie wage scale that really is coming down to the owners wanting 5 year deals and the players wanting 4 year deals for the first rounders.
The two sides may be closer than they have in the 120 days since the lockout started but it seems more to be a matter of who’s offer gets accepted than a matter of the offer itself. In other words, it simply seems as though one side wants to stand up and say “they accepted our proposal”. Which would in their eyes make them the victor in what is really a lose/lose situation for them both.
UPDATE: Drew Brees is not in attendance at the negotiations today. He is currently in San Diego and may join the talks on Thursday. He publicly stated that a deal is very close and that both sides are hoping to have a deal done by the owners meeting on July 21st.