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Giants co-owner Mara warns of trouble if players win fight

NEW YORK -- Giants co-owner John Mara warns that the players' strategy in the labor impasse, if successful, would lead to NFL chaos.

Mara wrote an essay that was posted Thursday on the Giants' official website in which he warned of a league with no salary caps or minimums and perhaps no draft.

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"The likely changes would be great for NFLPA lawyers, but not for players, teams, or, most importantly, fans," Mara wrote. "For example, there could be no league-wide minimum player salaries, with many players making less than they do today, or no minimum team player costs, with many clubs cutting payrolls the way some teams do in other sports. Other bedrock components of the NFL's competitiveness, such as the draft, would be called into question and assailed as antitrust violations.

"A steroid-testing program is a must, so we would have to consider an independent administrator such as WADA. There could be varying player benefit plans from team to team, and limits on the ability to enforce other league-wide rules that benefit players, especially rank-and-file players that do not go to the Pro Bowl."

A member of the NFL's executive committee and one of the league's more influential owners, Mara has been deeply involved in negotiations and mediation sessions.

Although most of his comments echoed those made by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell throughout the lockout that began March 12, after the players dissolved their union, Mara also listed specific consequences should the players win in court.

Ten players, including star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, filed an antitrust suit against the NFL hours before the lockout began.

"Even a settlement of the Brady lawsuit, in which the plaintiffs agree to certain rules, could be challenged by other players -- now or in the future," Mara wrote. "The league and individual clubs would likely be hit with a barrage of lawsuits. We could end up with an unregulated system in which a disproportionate amount of money goes to 'stars' and where teams in small markets struggle for survival. The very concept of a league with 32 competitive teams would be rendered virtually inoperable."

The league, of course, isn't operating normally right now, with teams barred from communicating with players, even this year's draft picks. Minicamps and offseason workouts are being missed. Training camps are scheduled to begin at the end of July, and, with no court decisions on the lockout expected until mid-June, those openings are in jeopardy.

Mara encouraged both sides "to compromise and reach a fair agreement -- one that highly compensates players, protects their health and safety, and ensures the on-field competitiveness of 32 teams, helps retired players, and improves the fan experience and fan values."

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah read the essay.

"The players are hopeful that the other owners read Mr. Mara's piece," Atallah said. "We agree that a long-term and fair solution is in everyone's best interests."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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