Let’s make a deal (updated)

As I sit at my gate in the San Juan airport waiting for my flight back to Baltimore, here’s where things stand in the NFL labor talks with the 5 p.m. collective bargaining agreement deadline quickly approaching:

With just minutes left for the the owners and players’ union to come to an agreement (or to agree on another extension), the ball appears to be in the owners’ court.

According to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, there are still “significant differences” between the two sides. The union has now asked the owners for 10 years of audited financial statements, and if the owners are willing to comply with that request, the players would be open to a third extension of the negotiating deadline.

If not, the NFLPA plans to decertify, which will allow the players to sue the owners and move this issue from the negotiating table to the courtroom.

The owners have been hesitant to fully open their books to the players, but we’ll see if they’re willing to do so with their backs now against the negotiating wall.

Anyway, this timing really could not be much worse for me. We’re boarding as I type this on my BlackBerry, and in about three and a half hours, I’ll land to news that there either has been a dramatic last-second extension, or we’re heading for decertification and a lockout.

We’ll see how it turns out. Catch you on the flip side.

Update: It looks like we’ll see a lockout.

I got the press release from the NFLPA as we’re taxing to the runway. The players have decided to decertify, and a lockout is likely the result.

The owners must not have been willing to open their books to the level that the players requested.

This is a sad day for all football fans. Much more on the impact of a lockout soon.

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