'Progress being made' in NFL talks
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- LaDainian Tomlinson doesn't think it will necessarily prevent a lockout, but the Jets running back was encouraged by news that the NFL and its players' association had agreed to a seven-day extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.
"I think that's a beginning, to be able to agree on the extension, because everybody assumed by last night the deal was going to be over and we were going to be locked out," Tomlinson said. "But for them to get together and agree to an extension, it tells you there is progress being made. So as players, we have to be happy about that."
Players across the NFL have a stake in the events unfolding in Washington, D.C., where a federal mediator is involved in negotiations between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and their staffs. A 24-hour extension Thursday led to the longer extension announced Friday afternoon.
Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin knows he will be affected by what happens. His season could expand to 18 games, his paycheck could shrink or his cost of benefits could expand, and that obviously concerns him.
But the Baltimore wide receiver isn't following the play-by-play.
"I think the union reps do a good job of relaying information to us," Boldin said. "But as far as the day-to-day, I don't pay too much attention to it, because honestly I can't change it anyway. I don't think it's worth spending time worrying about if I can't do anything about it."
Brandon Jacobs is with Boldin philosophically, but the Giants running back said he thought the fact that the owners were willing to get serious now, a time of year when NFL revenue isn't suffering, was a good sign.
"If they really wanted to wait until June or July to get it done, they wouldn't be asking for all these extensions," Jacobs said. "As long as it doesn't take that long to get done. The owners are missing out on a lot of money if they let it go that far. Right now the owners aren't making any money, so it's OK to play around at this time."
Jets linebacker Bart Scott, also at Disney World for ESPN The Weekend, said he is optimistic that something can get done for the betterment of the game.
"It's good that they're talking," Scott said, "but the core issues, I don't know if they're being addressed. ... I think this thing is a long way from being settled."
Baseball's Frank Thomas has been watching the NFL's labor issues with some interest as a fan. The former White Sox player had been in the running for baseball's Triple Crown when baseball faced its own labor problems. His quest was cut short by the 1994 strike.
"It's a sad situation in my eyes, because football is the most popular sport there is," Thomas said. "And when you get to labor strife and the situation of our economy, no one wants to hear about billions of dollars and million-dollar athletes."
For veterans like Tomlinson, Friday's news was a bit of reassurance that he would continue to play in the NFL.
"It would be very tough, and who knows what would happen after [a work stoppage]," Tomlinson said. "I can't even look that far down the line to see if I would even be able to play again or if I would want to. So players like myself are in a situation wondering if last year was my last year playing football or are we going to have a season this year?"
He said Jets player representative Brandon Moore had been e-mailing updates on the CBA talks, which has kept him well informed of what to expect, given all the rumors that have sprung up. "People talking about September, at this point I think it's all speculation," Tomlinson said. "From what I hear, things are kind of encouraging to where I can say, I believe we will have a season. I believe we may have a training camp."