As the deadline approaches for the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, the acrimony is increasing.
NFL executive Jeff Pash questioned the NFL Players Association’s sense of urgency to get a deal done.
This negotiation has become heated, at least publicly. And both sides have long since disregarded federal mediator George S. Cohen’s request that they observe a media blackout.
"Things can come together quickly, things can fall apart quickly," Pash said. "I’ve said it many times: If both sides have an equal commitment to getting this deal done, it will get done. I don’t know if both sides have an equal commitment. … Obviously, we have the commitment."
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah had a sharp response, writing the following e-mail to the Associated Press: "Jeff Pash was part of an executive team that sold the networks a $4 billion ticket to a game they knew wouldn’t be played. The only thing they’ve been committed to is a lockout."
Then, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith issued his own rebuttal.
"We have been committed to this process," Smith said. "But for anyone to stand and turn to the American people and say they question that? Look, I understand that there’s probably some things Jeff Pash just has to say, but this is the truth: We know that as early as March of 2009 … the National Football League engaged in a strategy to get $4 billion of television money even if the games weren’t played."
The CBA has been extended twice. It could be extended again or the union might decertify or the NFL owners could lock them out.
Everything is up in the air.
League spokesman Greg Aiello issued the following question on his Twitter account in response to Atallah’s comment: "When is union going to respond to our 150 pages of draft CBA provisions that they received eight days ago. Waiting."
And so are football fans, waiting anxiously for a labor peace that won’t be easily achieved.