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Union brings difference in tone, opinion to CBA discussions DALLAS — A year ago, days before Super Bowl XLIV, DeMaurice Smith said the odds of NFL owners locking out players in 2011 ranked 14 on a scale of one to 10.Smith, the NFL Players Association’s executive director, wouldn’t go there Thursday when asked at his Super Bowl XLV news conference. In fact, his tenor was far more academic but poignant as the labor standoff with NFL owners becomes more tenuous nearing a March 4 deadline.

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Whereas it has been combative and edgy in the past, it’s clear the union is more intent on being publicly more businesslike,Oakland Raiders Authentic Elite Jersey, although the sleeves might be rolled up in negotiating sessions. Super Bowl XLV: Packers 31, Steelers 25Super Bowl coverage:&raquo, Pack wins fourth Super Bowl

Every player and former player on this dais has heard me say and heard our leaders and our representatives tell our players to prepare for the worst even while you’re hoping for the best, Smith said.On more than one occasion, Smith said he has been entrusted by his membership to ensure a fair deal is done — and quickly. Owners also have said they want a deal as soon as possible.

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Following a public plea from the NFL’s lead negotiator, Jeff Pash, that round-the-clock negotiations are needed to reach a deal soon,Rams Authentic Youth Jersey, the sides plan to increase bargaining sessions and hope to prevent a work stoppage that could lead to missed games in 2011.The negotiating committees from both sides will meet Saturday in Dallas on the eve of the Super Bowl.While the issues of an 18-game season, a rookie-wage scale and the division of revenues have been well-documented and again were discussed at Thursday’s news conference,Raiders Authentic Elite Jersey Online, the most notable element was tone of the NFLPA’s message.

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But saying it and hammering out complex economic issues where concessions are needed are two different things. The ramped-up effort to reach a deal does provide optimism at a time when the NFL is set to play its grand game and the sport seems to be at its most popular.The more-subdued tone follows a recent trend — Smith did spark some raised eyebrows when, according to a New York Times article, he told new player representatives they were at war with league owners — between the sides.