And I thought after my annual four-week travelogue I could just ease back into the 15th season of Monday Morning Quarterback.
Nope. Gotta hit the ground running. No time to waste. A deal is certain to be announced after player approval late this morning or early this afternoon. The headlines of the morning:
• The league's 32 player reps have an 11 a.m. conference call scheduled to approve the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The players association is hoping for a unanimous vote.
• I'm told chances are very good that the deal will include an opt-out for both sides, not just the players. The iteration that was getting traction Sunday night would require each side to hit specific deal-breakers to be able to opt out, and the opt-out for either side would be done in year five of the deal. If either side chose to opt out in year five (2015), the final playing season of the deal would be 2016, with the final event of the CBA being the April 2017 draft. But I must stress that this was the latest version of the opt-out being discussed as the clock neared midnight, and it won't necessarily be the one that is announced today when the deal gets done.
• This is the tentative schedule of events today in Washington at the headquarters of the NFL Players Association, a group that is soon to be recertified as a labor organization: The 10-member Executive Committee and most of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case will gather starting at 9 a.m. Plaintiffs will sign affidavits saying they're satisfied with dismissal of the case; those not in attendance will have the signed affidavits sent to PA headquarters by this morning. Then the 10-member Executive Board of the NFLPA will unanimously approve the proposal, barring a late-night or early-morning setback, sending the deal to the player-rep vote. If all goes well (no one at the PA is worried it won't), a joint press conference with executive director De Smith and his Executive Board members could be held in the early afternoon with commissioner Roger Goodell and some of the league negotiators.