Linebacker Ben Leber serves as an assistant player representative for the Vikings and has proven time and again to be a stand up guy when it comes to speaking to the media.
But this evening, via text message, Leber declined to comment after the NFL Players Association decided not to vote on the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement that the NFL owners had just approved. Leber's decision to remain silent actually spoke volumes about how he likely felt about a proposal that apparently had some elements that caught the NFLPA off guard.
"Kind of what I'm hearing is [the owners] tried to slide in a good one on us," Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. "It's a good thing we read over things before we sign them. ... I think obviously [the issues have] to be pretty serious for them basically to kind of shut the whole thing down and say not to vote on it. If it was something minor you'd pick up the phone and say, 'Can we change this quick?'"
Nothing during this lockout has been easy, so it should come as no surprise that things did not go as smoothly as planned or hoped. Unless there is significant progress Friday, it appears there is little chance that players will be able to report to Winter Park on Saturday. That had been the plan in what the owners announced.
Here's how the rest of July would have looked and still could (I would guess) if something gets done Friday:
Saturday: Teams and players may begin to renegotiate contracts. Teams may begin to sign drafted rookies and their own unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents, exclusive rights players and franchise players.
Saturday: Starting at 1 p.m., clubs may negotiate with, but not sign, undrafted rookie free agents, free agents and other teams' unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and franchise players.
Sunday: Starting at 1 p.m., teams may begin to sign undrafted rookie free agents.
Wednesday: 2011 league year commences at 1 p.m., provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Free agency signing period begins. Clubs may sign free agents and other clubs' unrestricted free agents. Clubs may sign offer sheets. Trading period begins. All clubs must be under the salary cap. ... Expand rosters to 90-man limit.
Wednesday: Training camps open for all clubs, provided NFLPA has ratified CBA. Day one activities limited to physicals, meetings and conditioning. No pads permitted on day two or day three.
The Vikings were not planning to report to training camp until July 31. That date could end up changing if the players remain unhappy with what they are seeing from owners.