NFL owners walked away from the negotiating table Wednesday when the NFL Players Association proposed to take an average of 50 percent of all revenue generated by the league, according to player sources.
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NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith briefed club player representatives in a conference call on Wednesday night, detailing his version of the abbreviated session that fell far short of the seven hours that was scheduled between the two sides in an effort to reach a new collective bargaining agreement before it expires at midnight March 4.
Consequently, a five-hour second negotiating session scheduled for Thursday was canceled and no further meetings have been proposed.
Wednesday's meeting in Washington started off badly, one source said, when the owners' negotiating team interpreted the union's proposal of a 49-to-51 percent take as "total revenue" instead of the union's intended percentage take of "all revenue."
At the current revenue levels, "total revenue" has been defined as an estimated $9 billion gross, minus a $1 billion credit in the owners' favor. In the current CBA deal about to expire, the union's share has been estimated around 60 percent of $8 billion, once the $1 billion credit was subtracted.
Owners have asked for an additional $1 billion credit -- or $2 billion in total -- before it splits "total revenue" with players.
Smith has stated that the union would need to examine all of the owners' financial books before it would accept a substantial reduction in allowing the additional $1 billion in credits.
To simplify talks, a player source said the union told the owners' negotiating team that it will forgo its request to examine the league's financial books by simply taking the flat 50 percent cut of "all revenue," which would eliminate $1 billion-to-$2-billion credits off the top and erase the definition of "total revenue."
A union source said that if the NFLPA accepted the owners' current proposal, it would receive a little more than 40 percent all revenue.
Smith said in an interview with ESPN last week that a 40-to-42 percent share of all revenue would represent the smallest percentage of players' share by any professional sports union.
In addition to the flat 50 percent share of all revenue, players are willing to grant additional credits to any franchise that reinvests in stadium improvement, a mechanism to incentivize clubs to grow revenues, a players source said.
The union believes by taking a flat 50 percent share, it would eliminate the need to audit every expense clubs invest in order to offset credits built into the current CBA and the model proposed by owners going forward.
NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah would not elaborate Thursday, except to say "This didn't just start yesterday."
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league will not confirm, deny or comment on any specifics relating to negotiations.
Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst.