DeMaurice Smith feels lockout likely

Updated: September 8, 2010, 7:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

On the eve of the 2010 NFL regular season, the head of the players' union reiterated his belief that the league is headed for a lockout in 2011.

"I still feel that a lockout is coming in March," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Bloomberg News.

The NFL and the NFLPA have several issues to negotiate, including the amount of the league's revenue going to players, an 18-game schedule, expanded drug testing and a rookie wage scale before a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached.

In an interview with ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on Wednesday, commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the league's labor talks.

"We have a lot of work to get done. There's still sufficient time to do that. But there's really a window here. This deal is going to be easier to make between now and, let's say, March," Goodell said.

"Once we get to March it just becomes more complicated and more difficult, so we really need to work hard in the next several months to try to get something that works for the players, works for the owners and works for the game."

Goodell explained why it would become more difficult to negotiate a new deal in March.

"You get into when you don't have a system and potentially you start getting loss of revenues. And when you have loss of revenue there's less money for us to negotiate over. That's always a harder situation for anyone to negotiate in," Goodell told ESPN Radio.

In the deal the NFL opted out of after last season, players received approximately 60 percent of revenue after $1 billion was kept by the owners. The NFL wants to increase that amount to $2 billion to help with the increasing costs of stadium construction and operations.

"If this model is not working, i.e. teams are losing money, then we're willing to see the evidence of that and make the changes," Smith told Bloomberg News. "But prove it. If not, what's the justification for getting a billion back from us?"