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Players respond to Goodell: 'Your statements are false'

Members of the decertified NFL Players Association's executive committee sent a letter to Roger Goodell on Saturday, in response to the Commissioner's Thursday letter to all players that detailed the league's final offer to the players.

On the first page of the four-page letter, the players wrote, in regard to the Commissioner's letter and other public comments by Goodell and general counsel Jeff Pash, "Your statements are false."

Pash responded to the letter with a written statement Saturday, saying that "the most sensible step for everyone is to get back to bargaining."

The final page of the NFLPA letter directed the NFL to contact the class counsel, which will handle the Brady v. the NFL case, if it is interested in reaching a settlement that, ultimately, would provide the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement. The CBA expired on March 11, when talks broke down between the sides, the NFLPA decertified, and the NFL locked the players out.

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"We have heard that you have offered to have discussions with representatives of the players," the NFLPA wrote. "As you know, the players are represented by class counsel in the Brady litigation, with the NFLPA and its executive committee serving as an advisor to any such settlement discussions. If you have any desire to discuss a settlement of the issues in that case, you should contact class counsel."

Hearings in the Brady case are scheduled to commence on April 6 before U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson in St. Paul, Minn.

The NFLPA letter then went point by point in arguing the claims made on the NFL's offer by Goodell in his Thursday letter.

"We are pleased now to have received a reply to the comprehensive proposal that we made eight days ago," Pash said in his statement. "The points made in the players' letter are precisely the kind of points that collective bargaining is intended to address. Debating the merits of the offer in this fashion is what collective bargaining is all about."

Goodell's Thursday letter invited players back to the bargaining table, and suggested that the federal mediation process, as conducted through 16 days of negotiations, in late February and early March, remained the best way to reach a new deal.

The players responded by citing a lack of ownership participation in the mediation, again, in writing, "At all times during the mediation session we had representatives at the table with the authority to make a deal. The NFL representatives at the mediation did not."

Among the complaints by the NFLPA were the proposed "pegged" salary-cap system that the players claimed wouldn't account for additional growth in revenue, low revenue projections, financial transparency, a rookie-salary system that the NFLPA deemed too restrictive on young veterans in reaching free agency, and the idea of an expansion of the regular season.

Pash responded in his statement by citing that the player costs committed over the next four seasons in the league's proposal and the overall economic offer "was a substantial move by the clubs to keep negotiating and avoid a work stoppage."

The NFLPA also said that the final offer "did not come until 12:30 (ET) on Friday, and when we examined it, we found it was worse than the proposal the NFL had made the prior week, when we agreed to extend the mediation. At that point, it became clear to everyone that the NFL had no intention to make a good faith effort to resolve these issues in collective bargaining and the owners were determined to carry out the lockout strategy they decided on in 2007."

All eleven members of the NFLPA executive committee signed the letter: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Denver Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, New York Jets fullback Tony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel and guard Brian Waters and former players Sean Morey and Kevin Mawae, the NFLPA president. Executive director DeMaurice Smith's name was not on the letter.

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