An NFL Report
Dec. 18, 1992
NEW YORK (AP) _ NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and negotiators for the league's players spoke by telephone without setting a date for the next session that could end the league's 5-year-old labor impasse.
The only real activity Thursday was a conversation between Tagliabue and Jim Quinn, the attorney in several lawsuits filed by players against the league and the chief negotiator in the talks that have reached the brink of an agreement and then stalled.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Quinn and Tagliabue had agreed to meet soon to discuss the developments at two days' of owners' meetings in Dallas after the two sides had agreed on what they said was ''the framework'' for an agreement.
After meeting with representatives of all 28 teams on Wednesday, Tagliabue said considerable progress had been made in bridging the gap between the two sides. But Quinn said the players were unwilling to make any major concessions and were willing to take their chances in court, where U.S. District Court Judge David Doty must approve any settlement - or make a ruling on the motions pending before him.
''If they've got 10 things to change in the agreement, I don't think he's going to get anywhere,'' Doug Allen, assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association, said Thursday. ''If they've got some things to modify, I think Jim and Paul can finalize things.''
All this stems from meetings last week that resulted in the framework for a deal that would bring unrestricted free agency and a salary cap to the NFL for the first time. Last September, a jury sitting before Doty in Minneapolis threw out the NFL's limited Plan B free agency system, although it said the league had the right to impose a system for player movement within limits.
On Tuesday, it appeared a seven-member committee of owners empowered to make a deal was about to approve it.
However, several objections were raised to points in the framework by members of the committee, including the length of the deal.
There was also some objection to allowing all 16 players named in the various lawsuit to become unrestricted free agents without any of the limitations that could otherwise be imposed. Philadelphia, which in the next two years could lose Reggie White, Clyde Simmons and Seth Joyner - the heart of its defense - could be particularly damaged under that clause.
But negotiators for the players said exempting plaintiffs in the various lawsuits was a given months ago. One union official noted that since the cases are officially before a court, they could not be settled if those plaintiffs disapproved.
The NFL has been without a contract since the players went back to work in without an agreement following a 24-day strike in 1987.