The League

Bushrod (Mark Humphrey - AP)
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Friday, February 5, 2010

NFLPA director says lockout looms

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said Thursday that the sport is on the verge of labor strife.

The league's franchise owners have taken a series of steps that make a lockout of the players in 2011 likely, Smith said, after next season is played without a salary cap.

"On a scale of 1 to 10," Smith said of the prospects of a lockout, "it's a 14."

Smith and Kevin Mawae, the Tennessee Titans' center who is the president of the players' union, said the owners have asked the players to accept an 18 percent pay cut that would reduce the percentage of league revenues going to the players under the salary cap system from about 59 percent to 41 percent.

"I assume the reason we are not closer together [in negotiations] is because I have not said yes to 41 percent," Smith said. "I apologize."

Jeff Pash, the league's chief labor negotiator, denied the union's assertions, saying that the NFL's proposal to the union would not result in the players making less money.

"Our proposal should not result in the players having to take a reduction," Pash said.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during a Sirius satellite radio interview Thursday that the owners are not aiming to lock out the players.

"You don't make money by shutting down your business," Goodell said, according to a written transcript of the interview provided by Sirius. "So the idea that the owners want to lock out and not play football is absolutely not the case. That's just not good for anybody. But when you're going into these negotiations . . . both sides are going to be prepared for all the alternatives."

Bushrod prepares

Towson grad Jermon Bushrod, the New Orleans Saints' left tackle, said he made plenty of mistakes throughout the year, adjusting weekly to being thrust into the starting lineup during the preseason after entering training camp as a projected backup.

But after 16 solid weeks subbing for injured Pro Bowler Jammal Brown, Bushrod said he is prepared for the possibility of facing Indianapolis Colts star defensive end Dwight Freeney, who is trying to come back from a sprained ankle in time for Sunday's Super Bowl.

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