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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The NFL players' union has advised its members to prepare for a lockout it expects to come in March, telling players to save their last three game checks this year in case there is no season in 2011.
In a letter to the players that was seen by The Associated Press, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union had an "internal deadline" for agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement.
"That deadline has now passed," he wrote. "It is important that you protect yourself and your family."
The letter was dated Wednesday, and copies were strewn across a table in the New England Patriots locker room during the media availability on Saturday. After a reporter asked players about the letter, a Patriots spokesman flipped the copies face-down.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello called the union's deadline "disappointing and inexplicable, especially for fans."
"We hope this does not mean the union has abandoned negotiating in favor of decertifying and litigating," he said. "We are ready to meet and negotiate anytime and anywhere. But it takes sustained effort and shared commitment to reach an agreement. One side can't do it alone."
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