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Jeff Pash says both sides should be able to vote Thursday

NFL Holds Annual Meetings Amid Lockout

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 21: NFL executive Vice President Jeff Pash address the media at the Roosevelt Hotel on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12, the league is conducting it’s annual owners meeting in New Orleans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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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.”