By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun
10:15 PM EDT, July 21, 2011
NFL owners unlocked the doors Thursday, but the players aren't ready to enter just yet.
Hours after owners overwhelmingly approved a conditional end to the four-month-old lockout, the players refused to vote on the proposed 10-year collective bargaining agreement. Describing the move as a "power play," New Orleans Saints fullback Heath Evans accused the owners of trying to "slip many things" into the CBA that hadn't been agreed upon.
The NFL has given the players until Tuesday to vote on the deal, according to ESPN.
"Our leadership isn't going to sign anything just because it's time to go to training camp," Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "They need to quit screwing around."
In a development that caused more confusion than celebration, the owners voted 31-0 in favor of the settlement, which included the return of the salary cap, a reduction in offseason workouts for players and the continuation of a 16-game regular season.
The league immediately released a calendar that would open facilities on Saturday and allow free agency to begin Wednesday pending recertificiation of the players' union.
"I think this is a great day for fans," Ravens president Dick Cass said in a statement. "We're ready for the season to begin and we've been preparing for this for many months. Our coaches are ready, our scouts are ready. It's going to be a lot of activity at the facility in the next week or so."
The players, however, didn't vote on the proposal during a 90-minute conference call Thursday night. According to NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith, issues such as "workers' compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms" still need to be resolved.
Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who also serves on the NFLPA executive committee, vented his frustration to fullback Le'Ron McClain on Twitter.
"Man, they don't make anything easy," Foxworth wrote.
NFL officials contend it's a "fair" deal.
"The good news is we have approved an agreement that is fair to our fans, fair to our players and fair to the teams," Cass said. "This gives us the basis to move forward and preserve competitive balance in the league and make the league stronger and better."
At this point, it's uncertain when a deal will get completed. If the sides don't reach an agreement by next week, some preseason games could be at risk.
The Hall of Fame game between the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams in Canton, Ohio has been canceled. It was scheduled for Aug. 7. The Ravens' first preseason game is scheduled to take place in three weeks.
"We're not going to be put under the fire to try to make a decision," Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said in an ESPN interview. "We're going to look at what the owners have signed off on and we're going to take this very seriously. We're not up against any time constraint. We're going to take this very delicately."
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