NFL owners have approved a proposed labor deal. Game on, right? Wrong, several players said Friday.
One day after NFL owners trumpeted the ratification of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement that would end the stalemate, players from several ballclubs expressed contempt for the way it was being portrayed.
Super Bowl-winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted that the owners were benefiting from "ridiculous" media spin.
Wide receiver Donté Stallworth, who did an on-air interview with ESPN on Friday, pleaded for fan support. "Fans PLEASE understand we received the deal late last night," he said via Twitter. "Stayed up late & up early today reviewing 200+ pages... We are on top of it!!!
Other players weren't so gracious.
"The owners tried 2 slip many things n2 the CBA 'they' voted on that were NEVER agreed 2!" tweeted New Orleans fullback Heath Evans.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, in response to a fan’s tweet about the lockout being done and football on the horizon, tweeted: "Not quite. Don't believe the hype."
ESPN radio and television personality Bonnie Bernstein empathized with the players late Thursday, tweeting: "Imagine getting a lengthy contract detailing ur job for NEXT 10 YRS . Wouldn't u be analyzing every line?"
On Thursday, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith was less than optimistic in an e-mail to the group's 32 player representatives on the owners' approval of the labor deal.
"As you know, the owners have ratified their proposal to settle our differences,” he said, according to SI.com. “They apparently approved a supplemental revenue sharing proposal. Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions."
"We will be prepared to open training facilities Saturday," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday, effectively ending the lockout that NFL owners voted for months earlier. Players at that point would be free to come and go - and train - in league buildings (thus, they'll be no longer physically locked out), although they would not be signed if they didn't do so before the labor dispute.
"It is time to get back to football. That is what everyone here wants to do," Goodell said.
The ante was raised considerably Thursday when it was announced that the August 7 preseason Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams had been canceled due to time constraints.
The regular season is scheduled to begin September 8.
But that's on paper. In reality, gamesmanship is in play more than ever.