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Football: NFLPA still hoping for labor deal as clock ticks down

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — NFL teams want to ignore the clock and keep it business at this week’s annual scouting combine.
With the league’s collective bargaining agreement expiring at the end of Thursday and the looming lockout less than a week away, the hype over this year’s top draft prospects has suddenly been overshadowed by talk about contingency plans, mediation and unification.
It’s a whole new universe for the NFL, which hasn’t had a work stoppage since 1987.
“Free agency doesn’t start until the new league year, and if there’s no league year, you can’t sign any free agents,” agent Tom Condon explained Friday.
The warning signs have been all over Indianapolis over the last two days.
On Thursday, league officials met with coaches and general managers to discuss different scenarios and lockout rules.
On Friday, it was DeMaurice Smith’s turn. The NFL Players Association executive director spent two hours meeting with agents and answering questions, left for lunch and then returned for the afternoon session.
Before walking in, he sent a clear message about the players’ desire.
“We want a deal and our hope is it will get done as quickly as possible,” he said.


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