Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects there to be football . . . real soon.
The NFL has descended on the Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway for a special meeting today.
There is one item on the agenda.
The owners will meet in the Gateway Ballroom starting at 10 a.m. and will vote to end the four-month old lockout, the league’s first work stoppage since 1987. The league will need 24 of the 32 owners to approve the deal.
“Yes, I think so” Blank told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution when asked if he felt the deal would get done today. “I’d be disappointed, like 330 million people in America, if it didn’t get done today.”
Blank, who spoke to the AJC before entering the meeting, was clearly not expecting any curve balls from his fellow owners.
“There’s been wonderful communication between the labor committee (which is made up of) eight owners, commissioner, league staff, our counsel, everybody in that room,” Blank said. ”So, there won’t be any surprises from an ownership perspective.”
The owner’s anticipated approval is a little sketchy because the NFLPA didn’t vote to approve the collective bargaining agreement in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
“ Hopefully, the players have gotten through their issues last night and will be in position to do their ratification this morning or today,” Blank said. “I don’t know what the timing of that is. I do know, I’ve read the same things you all have read, and that’s our general counsel (Jeff Pash) has said that the owners could ratify the deal first if necessary and then have the players approve it. It’s not what we expected, but if that’s the process, that’s the process.”
Here are some of the issues standing in the way of a “Global Settlement”:
1. Settle the antitrust case the players filed after they were locked out on March 11.
2. Settle the television revenue case that the players viewed as lockout insurance by the owners.
3. What to do with the $320 million in benefits that the players would have received during the lockout.
4. Benefits for retired players.
5. Whether the Hall of Fame exhibition game will be canceled or postponed.
6. Whether there was collusion to restrict salaries in 2010.
7. If a deal is reached, the league will have to address its business calendar, new free agency rules and a new rookie salary system.
Myself, AJC columnist Jeff Schultz and photographer Curtis Compton are here for Team AJC. We’ll have updates throughout the day on twitter @AJCFalcons and @JeffSchultzAJC.