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Trading charges remains the only game in town

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

After many NFL teams issued carefully worded statements over the weekend pinning the blame on the now decertified NFL Players Association, the players predictably lashed back at owners for the current collective-bargaining mess.

During a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon, Kevin Mawae and Drew Brees insisted the owners did not negotiate in good faith and forced the union to decertify.

“It was all a front, a show with no real intent to getting a deal done other than saying they made a proposal that was no different than anything else they proposed over the last couple years, months and weeks,” Brees said. “The fact remains with what they demanded back from us, we needed proof.”

Mawae lamented that he was at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for 16 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday but only sat across from the owners for 30 minutes. Then, on Thursday, the players never were called back to the building after a lunch break and that they received an offer Friday afternoon.

Brees called that deal “unrealistic” and said the owners only extended it so they could blame the players for walking away.

During an appearance on “Pro Football Talk Live,” NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said after the players left the FMCS building, they received an e-mail from the union informing them of decertification a little after 4 p.m. — an hour earlier than the deadline.

“We went a long way toward satisfying their financial transparency demands,” Pash said on “Pro Football Talk Live.” “Frankly, I’m not convinced they want to see the numbers. I think they like it better as an issue to whack us upside the head with than actually look at the numbers.”

The Denver Broncos publicly said they would open up their books if it would help. But Mawae said, “Maybe you should ask the owners if they trust each other to see each other’s books.”

Presently, even among NFL teams, financial information is closely guarded.

There are varying opinions on how close the two sides were to a deal on Friday. Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely told “Pro Football Talk Live” they were close, but George Atallah, who was the NFLPA’s executive director on Friday, suggested that perception was false.

“The reality is, we weren’t,” Atallah said.

But as they move forward, Mawae again insisted that 18 games will not be part of a deal.

“Eighteen games is not going to happen through NFL player negotiations,” Mawae said. “We can’t justify that for the health and safety of our players.”

On April 6, there will be a case hearing in the players’ suit against the league in Minneapolis, before U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson.

That’s likely welcome news to the league, since David Doty has handled many of the CBA cases and ruled in favor of the players several times.

“It’s about the facts and the law,” Brees said. “And we believe those are on our side.”

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