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Report: NFL players' unity in trouble

Could there be a power shift in the NFL's labor fight?
Could there be a power shift in the NFL's labor fight?
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A breakaway group of NFL players are close to hiring a law firm to intervene in the antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, the Sports Business Daily reported Wednesday.

According to the report, as many as 70 mid-tier players want to be represented separately at mediation, which was being conducted between the NFL and the players in a federal courtroom in Minneapolis.

The motion, expected to be filed by the end of the week, would not contest the Brady v. NFL lawsuit, but would demand the other group of players have their own seat at the negotiations.

Most of the 10 plaintiffs — especially Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning — have earned far more than the average NFL player.

On the players' lockout website, an alleged copy of the law firm's solicitation letter was posted Wednesday evening under the headline "Another Attempt to Divide Players".

The letter on the website said the intention of the unnamed law firm was to represent 70 or more people — mainly "typical" players. The purported letter also hinted that the firm would be more cooperative to working with the owners on reaching an agreement.

The law firm set to represent the group of players must first resolve a minor conflict of interest before moving forward, according to the Sports Business Daily report.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ordered the sides to resume mediation before a federal magistrate, and the new round of talks ended with little — if any progress made.

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Nelson said two weeks ago that she would take a "couple of weeks" before ruling on the players' request for an injunction against the owners' lockout. The players argue the lockout, which went into effect March 11, is causing them irreparable harm.

An appeal to the Eighth Circuit is expected regardless of which way Nelson rules on the injunction.

The breakaway group of players is reportedly unhappy that the NFL Players Association walked out on federally-mediated talks in Washington, D.C., before decertifying the union and filing the antitrust lawsuit.

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