NFL Talks Collapse; Players Disband Union –

The National Football League descended Friday into turmoil as negotiations between owners and players broke off, setting up a potentially lengthy court battle that could have serious consequences for both the league and the sports business in general.

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NFL players union executive director DeMaurice Smith, wearing hat, shown arriving for Friday’s negotiations.



After spending seven-plus hours negotiating in Washington, D.C., in a 17th day of mediation, leaders of the NFL and the players union said late Friday afternoon that talks had stalled and blamed the other side for the meltdown.

Shortly thereafter the union filed paperwork to decertify and 10 players, including stars Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The suit seeks to prevent the owners from locking out the players. But the league locked out players as of midnight Saturday.

“Significant differences remain,” said DeMaurice Smith, the union’s executive director.

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“We worked hard,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who dismissed the players’ litigation. “Ultimately this is going to be negotiated.”