Critical week on NFL labor scene

By Off the wire by Barry Wilner,
Updated: February 28, 2011

NEW YORK (AP)—Deadlines no longer are in the distance for the NFL and the players’ union. The collective bargaining agreement expires Thursday night, and the owners could lock out the players.

Even before that, though, the Players Association is likely to decertify to prevent a lockout and take its chances in court.

Both sides will resume meeting with a federal mediator Tuesday and probably Wednesday; seven recent sessions brought little progress. The 32 team owners have meetings Wednesday and Thursday in Chantilly, Va., where they will be briefed on the status of negotiations before deciding on the next step.

Just ahead stands the unthinkable: a labor shutdown in America’s most prosperous and popular sport.