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Chiefs stadium workers losing key benefit of employment

chiefs Getty Images

And just as we begin searching for the Chiefs’ worst moments since 1987, a new candidate emerges.

According to FOX 4 in Kansas City, the folks who work in the parking lots and turnstiles are losing one of the main reasons they seek such jobs:  The ability to watch the games at no charge.

In the past, the workers have been permitted to stay and watch the games.  “We were told that when we work and we are done, we are to clock out and leave the premises,” said Steve Warner, who has worked for 13 years (and we doubt there will be a 14th year) as a ticket taker.  “That’s when everybody was very, very, very upset. . . .  When we go and work hard at the gates and knowing that it’s hot outside or freezing in January, even during the season, you get your benefit of going and watching the game.”

Said the Chiefs, in a statement released to FOX 4L  “We’re working to develop policies and practices that provide the best possible experience for our fans; and fair and appropriate compensation and benefits for our employees.”

So the good news, Arrowhead employees?  The lockout could be ending soon.

The bad news?  You may miss the first quarter or so of the game while you’re driving home to watch it on TV.

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Chiefs’ “worst moments” on deck for Thursday

nfl_g_johnson-peterson01_580 Getty Images

By our unofficial count, we’ve got only three teams left in our lockout time-killing series based on the worst moments for each franchise since the last work stoppage.

On Thursday, we’ll take a look at the lowlights for the Chiefs.

Suggest your own worst moments for the franchise in the comments.  We’ll count them down at some point between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. ET.

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Owners express “frustration” with lack of player vote

NFL Labor Football AP

NFL ownership in Atlanta apparently had a similar reaction to many PFT commenters after learning about the lack of a player vote to end the lockout Wednesday.

“NFL owners in Atlanta are expressing frustration that players did not vote on the CBA today. Call this a Delay of Game penalty,” Nancy Gay of FoxSports.com writes.

A delay of game is a relatively minor penalty.  If the players vote Thursday, with Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins standing down in their request for $10 million, then Wednesday’s delay won’t really matter.

Florio wonders if the players are essentially just delaying things because they want the owners to go first.

If that’s the issue, the owners sound ready to oblige.

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It’s e-mail, tweet, phone call time on Thursday

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With a three-hour stint on The Dan Patrick Show coming up tomorrow, I’ll need to prep for PFT Live, which starts as soon as Dan’s show ends, in advance.

One quick and easy way to fill up the hour comes from opening the phone lines, the e-mail box, and the Twitter page.

Of course, there may not be many easy questions right now, given that everything seems to be in such a state of flux.

But ask away.  Send in your e-mails.  And your tweets.  And be ready to call tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. ET.

We’ll be joined by agent Joel Segal, who represents a who’s-who of big-name clients, including Mike Vick, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush, Randy Moss, and Ike Taylor.  So if you have questions about any of those guys, now is the perfect time to ask.

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Report: Vincent Jackson, Logan Mankins still want $10 million each

71117_Chargers_Jackson_Football AP

The good news?  None of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust action want to become free agents in exchange for signing off on the settlement of the case.

The bad news?  According to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Patriots guard Logan Mankins still want $10 million each.

The report comes despite Jackson’s Twitter claim after the issue of free agency or free money arose on Tuesday that he wants nothing other than to play ball.

It sounds like more players than Vikings punter Chris Kluwe need to call these guys dirty, but hilarious, names.

What they’re doing is wrong, notwithstanding the rant from Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, which reads like it was ghostwritten by Jackson’s agents, Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, who orchestrated the Darrelle Revis and Roddy White holdouts.  The men who attached their names to the lawsuit deserve nothing other than the satisfaction that comes from doing the right thing.

And if Jackson and Mankins don’t like the fact that they were screwed by the owner-friendly 2010 rules of a CBA that was otherwise overwhelmingly friendly to the players, then perhaps the NFLPA* should release a chunk of its supposed $300 million lockout insurance fund in order to make them happy.

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Dayton leaves door open for a Vikings stadium special session

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The Minnesota Legislature has, via a special session, solved the state’s budget mess.  But the Vikings stadium situation continues to be unresolved as the team enters the lame-duck season of its Metrodome lease.

On Tuesday, Governor Mark Dayton expressed reluctance to call a second special session before the Legislature returns to its normal schedule in 2012.  On Wednesday, he seemed to hint that, with the right bill to present to the politicians, perhaps he would.

Dayton called the proposed plan to build a stadium in Ramsey County “incomplete and unsatisfactory,” according to the Associated Press.  But Dayton said that he will “seriously consider” bringing the Legislature back if/when he’s presented with a stadium bill that represents a “good deal for Minnesota.”

So there you have it.  Unless the powers-that-be can conjure up a “good deal for Minnesota,” the Vikings will be saying “good bye to Minnesota.”

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Bills worst moments since ’87 strike

We take a break from your latest lockout labor pains to look back at a few decades of pain for the Buffalo Bills.

Florio welcomed in new PFT Bills correspondent Luke Russert, who broke down the worst five moments for the Bills since 1987 far better than we could have.  (And he included some surprises.)

Russert and Florio also discuss whether the 2011 Bills could erase some of the pain of the last 24 years.

For Wednesday’s entire show, including interviews with Jets safety Jim Leonhard and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, head to the PFT Live homepage or download the show on iTunes.

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Jeff Pash says both sides should be able to vote Thursday

NFL Holds Annual Meetings Amid Lockout Getty Images

The players’ decision not to vote on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement today doesn’t mean the owners won’t vote on a new CBA tomorrow.

That’s the word from NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, who said he sees no reason not to think the owners can vote to approve a new deal to end the lockout at Thursday’s meeting.

“It doesn’t impact it at all,” Pash said of the players not voting today. “We’re going to continue to work with the players. We’ll find out if there are issues that still need to be negotiated, and we’re going to work cooperatively with them through the evening and try to have something in place that both sides can vote on tomorrow morning.”

If there are still issues that need to be negotiated tonight, it would seem difficult to vote by tomorrow morning. And NFL spokesman Greg Aiello interrupted Pash’s comments to the media to point out that the vote to approve the new CBA could come Thursday afternoon or Thursday evening. But there does seem to be a sense of optimism that it will come Thursday at some point.

Pash described his level of optimism as “cautious, but I think we’re making progress.”

“I think both sides are at the point where they can close, they should close, and we should be in a position to take votes,” Pash said.

As for the possibility that one of the named plaintiffs in the players’ antitrust suit against the owners could cause a delay in ending the lockout, Pash didn’t seem concerned about that. Instead, he said he thinks the entire deal can get done very soon.

“I think we’re going to have an agreement that all clubs will be a part of and all players will be a part of,” Pash said. “All the litigation goes away. I think that’s the healthy outcome, to have a complete, comprehensive, global agreement that settles all the disputes and puts us on a path where we’re going forward together.”

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Ken Whisenhunt downplays trade talk but says he’d consider anything

K. Whisenhunt Getty Images

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has heard all the rumors. Maybe Kevin Kolb will be his quarterback this season. Maybe the Cardinals will get Kolb by trading away Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Maybe the Cardinals already have an understanding with Marc Bulger, or maybe Bulger doesn’t want to play in Arizona.

Whisenhunt says all those rumors have one thing in common: They’re way too premature to be taken seriously.

I don’t even know where that speculation started about trading or what we’re going to give up,” Whisenhunt told the Arizona Republic. “We don’t even know if [the Eagles] are willing to [trade Kolb]. That’s something that everybody speculates on.”

Whisenhunt says it annoys him that there were rumors a few months ago of a deal with Bulger already being essentially done.

“And yet yesterday there was a report that [Bulger] didn’t even want to come here, to Arizona,” Whisenhunt said. “So which one is it? Is it, we’ve already worked a deal under the table or is it he does not want to come here?”

Whisenhunt acknowledges, however, that trading for a quarterback is a possibility, and that the Cardinals would consider trading anyone on their current roster if they got the right deal. That should be enough for us to continue the speculation.

What else are we supposed to do until the lockout ends?

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Lions left tackle Jeff Backus recovering from pectoral injury

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Getty Images

Lions left tackle Jeff Backus is recovering from a pectoral injury that was apparently suffered during the lockout, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.

Dave Birkett reports it’s believed Backus has a partially torn pectoral muscle.  The Lions are aware of it and say it’s “not serious.” Backus is one of the most important members of the team, especially considering the team’s lack of depth.

In theory, this could be an interesting test case for how injuries sustained during the lockout are handled.  Some players feared teams calling any injuries suffered during the lockout a “non-football” injury, which could affect their pay.

Backus is such a longtime leader for the team, that it defies belief the Lions would do anything to take advantage of the situation.  Especially if the injury is “not serious.”

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Trying to explain the delay in player vote

DeMaurice Smith AP

So everyone expected the NFL players to vote on a possible deal to end the lockout on Wednesday, and it didn’t happen.

Since I’m not smart enough to understand why this might have happened, let’s collect a few reports from around the league to make sense of things.

From Alex Marvez: “Source told FOXSports.com delay stemmed from volume of CBA material that must be reviewed.  That’s a lot of stuff to digest in one afternoon.”

Mark Maske of the Washington Post passed along the same reason, with very similar wording from the players’ side.

That would seem to indicate the delay isn’t a huge concern.  Yet.

One “key NFL source” thought the delay raised a “warning flag” according to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.

Most interesting was a series of tweets from Jim Trotter of SI.com.  He writes that the players voted to “conditionally approve” the deal pending resolution of a few key items.   NFLPA* class counsel will reportedly continue to work with the NFL in hopes of having agreement before NFL owners vote tomorrow.

“The players vote is conditional, meaning they’re prepared to forward the settlement if certain issues can be resolved with the owners.  One of the issues presumably is the $320 million the players lost in benefits last season during the uncapped year,” Trotter writes.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN echoed the idea, saying the players gave De Smith a “vote of confidence” to finish deal points.  A final vote could take place via conference call.

So what do we make of all this?

The deal isn’t done until it’s done.  Apparently, some negotiations remain.   This is a thorny, complicated process that is tough to hammer through quickly.

If the players truly left things in the hands of DeMaurice Smith, we cautiously doubt it’s anything to fret over.  Smith is the one that brought the 32 player reps together because he had a deal he wanted to present to them.  He’s clearly confident in a deal.

Whatever the “certain issues” are, we’d imagine they can be resolved.

We’ve waited this long.  What’s another day?  (Hopefully.)

UPDATE:  Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com broke it down beautifully on Twitter:

“This is the deal: vote on CBA–no. Vote to settle lawsuit–sorta yes.  CBA by end of week–hell yes.  So calm your asses down, people.”

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AP: No player vote Wednesday

NFL Labor Football AP

Keep the champagne on ice.

The NFLPA* will not hold a vote on a possible settlement to end the lockout Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.  This report counters ESPN’s front page story throughout Wednesday, which said a vote would take place.

NFL Network has confirmed that no vote will take place Wednesday.

While a vote was expected, it’s not worth speculating (yet) if this means much in the grand scheme of things.  The procedure to end the lockout is a complex one, filtering from the NFLPA* Executive Committee to player reps to antitrust plaintiffs and beyond.

The NFL owners meet on Thursday and are expected to vote to ratify a new CBA.  We’ll have to wait and find out if the players have agreed to the deal by the then.

At this point, approval of the CBA should be a no-brainer for the union.  We wouldn’t overreact to the delay yet.

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Kerry Collins retires without regret

Kerry Collins AP

After playing 16 NFL seasons with five different teams, making two Pro Bowls and passing for more than 40,000 yards, Kerry Collins says he’s sure he made the right decision to retire.

“I am really at peace with my career,” Collins told a group of reporters today, per Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “I didn’t win a Super Bowl and that is going to be one of the things that bugs me, I know it will. But when I sit here and look back at the age of 38, I played 16 years and I had kind of a rough start but I am proud of the way I came back from that and the things I accomplished over the years. There will be parts of it that I will miss, but I don’t think I’ll ever regret the decision I made.”

Speaking publicly about his decision to retire for the first time, Collins said he knows he let people down in Carolina, where his off-field problems resulted in him getting the boot three and a half years after he became the face of the franchise and the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft. But he said he worked hard to turn his career around after that.

“In Carolina I made my mistakes and didn’t act like an NFL quarterback needed to act,” Collins said. “But since then I have, and I have always taken the approach, ‘I am going to do it the best way I can.’ . . . I did the best I could at each and every place that I was at and that is why I look back and I am proud I lasted this long. It is not an easy thing to do.”

Collins said he’ll probably get antsy on Sunday afternoons in the fall, but he knows he doesn’t have it in him to go through another training camp.

“I know what it takes to prepare for a season,” Collins said, “and my commitment to do that is just not there any more.”

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Condon thinks players will approve labor deal

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Rarely if ever does an NFL agent give us any good news.  Today, NFL agent Tom Condon did.

In an interview with Rich Eisen of NFL Network, Condon said that he thinks the players will approve the proposed labor deal.

“I guess if I was a betting man I would think that they’ll approve,” Condon said.

It’s significant because Condon isn’t some slappy who represents a backup guard, a kickoff specialist, and an aging defensive lineman.  Condon, through CAA, represents some of the biggest names in the league, and Condon has a way of always finding himself in the thick of things.

As to the timing, Condon thinks approval will occur today or Thursday morning.

Regarding Tuesday’s brouhaha regarding allegations that the plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit are looking for special consideration, Condon said that the question of the franchise tag arose only with respect to the position that players should be subject to it only once in their careers.  He denied that either Brees or Manning tried to get special treatment.

Multiple reports suggest otherwise, but it’s currently a dead issue.  If Condon is right about the approval of the labor deal.

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Plaxico seems to be interested in every NFL team, except the Giants

BurressSteelersAP AP

Free-agent receiver Plaxico Burress apparently has been working with Jon Gruden.  Like Gruden, Plaxico likes everyone.

We’ve seen it in a stream of radio interviews, in which Burress apparently has been pandering to the local audience by expressing interest in playing for the home team.  Radio in Philly?  Plax wants to play for the Eagles.  Chicago?  Bring on the Bears.  Miami?  Plaxico wants to be a Dolphin.

But he’s not simply saying what he thinks the local fans want to hear.  He’s apparently interested in every team.  Or, at least, in every team that’s interest in him.

Appearing on a national platform, with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of Sirius NFL Radio, Burress expressed interest in every team the hosts mentioned:  Eagles, Steelers, Rams, and Jets.

Burress also listed his priorities, something that will go a long way toward helping him sift through his eventual options.

“Well, the head coach is going to be first and foremost,” Burress said.  “It’s going to be somebody to where, well, you know, he has an open door policy, I can walk in his office and sit down and talk to him whether it’s about football or life or whatever that may be.  Then, of course, second, it’s going to be a quarterback.  I’m a wide receiver.  I mean, that’s a no brainer.  I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not.  And surround myself with guys that are hungry and guys that know how to play and want to win.  I mean, some guys are just happy to go out, get a check, compete, and don’t care whether they win or lose.  Well, I’m not that guy.  I mean, I’m a winner.  I love to win.  You ask the guys that I’ve played with in New York or whether it was in Pittsburgh, there’s nothing more that I hate, there’s nothing more for me than losing.  I hate to lose and I’m going to put myself into a situation and put myself into a piece of a puzzle where I’m going to make it complete.”

Other factors surely include money and Plaxico’s anticipated spot on the depth chart.  And plenty of teams want him.  For now, he’d be interested in just about any team.

Except the Giants.

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