Just when the two sides were starting to get along, the NFL's labor situation has gotten ugly yet again.
The players were absolutely livid with the owners Thursday night, and as such, the league's player representatives knew within an hour of their conference call that they wouldn't be voting to ratify a settlement to end the lockout, according to a player rep who was on the call.
There's a "good chance" the players reconvene for another call Friday, but the player rep had "no idea" if the players would be ready to vote then.
Earlier Thursday, the owners approved the proposal by a 31-0 vote (the Raiders abstained), and they left it up to the players' vote. However, the player rep said there was nothing to vote on because the owners never sent them the actual proposal. They were also told the owners made some changes that were never agreed upon.
"There's no way to agree or disagree [on a vote] if we haven't seen the proposal," the player rep told NESN.com.
The owners were overheard loudly celebrating after their vote inside a function hall at an Atlanta hotel, and they followed by celebrating with a news conference in which they thanked and congratulated everyone in the league for their hard work. They laid out a schedule that would allow the players to report to team facilities Saturday, and the league year (free agency and training camps) would begin July 27, subject to the players' vote to approve the settlement and recertify as a union.
When asked if the players felt they were strong-armed into a corner by the owners' aggressive public-relations spin, the player rep responded, "Exactly."
The conference call, which lasted more than three hours, centered around a "Where do we go from here?" discussion, follow-up questions from the players' meeting in Washington, D.C., and then tempering their "extreme frustration" with the owners, according to the player rep.
When asked where, exactly, do the players go from here, the rep responded, "wait to see what the hell [the owners] voted on [Thursday]."
The players and owners really built up a lot of goodwill over the last week, but that wall of trust crumbled late Thursday. While an agreement could still be on the horizon, the optimism has really started to fade into more uncertainty.