The National Football League's (NFL) labor talks collapsed Friday signaling the first shutdown of professional football in 24 years may be inevitable.
The Washington Post reports:
The players filed to dissolve their union, according to officials on both sides of the dispute, a move that ended negotiations with the NFL and team owners over a new labor pact whose central issue is how to divide the $9 billion in annual revenue generated by the nation's most popular sport. The two sides met Friday for a 16th day of mediated talks but made no substantial progress.
Decertifying the NFL Players Association enables the players to file antitrust litigation against the owners. The players also are expected to seek an injunction Friday from U.S. District Judge David S. Doty to block a lockout of players by the owners.
The owners are likely to announce later Friday that they will lock out players, effective after the sport's current labor deal expires at 11:59 p.m. But they may not have to move immediately.
The union's executive director, DeMaurice Smith, said as he left the talks about 4:40 p.m. that the union had given owners until 5 p.m. to turn over 10 years worth of audited financial records. The owners apparently did not comply.
Smith said that "significant differences" remained between the two sides.
Attorneys representing the players have reportedly named quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints to be name as litigants in antitrust litigation against the owners.