NFL players can draw from lockout fund next month

Each NFL player who contributed to a lockout fund will be able

to begin collecting up to a total of about $60,000.

After setting aside union dues and royalties during recent

seasons, eligible players may start drawing from the fund April

15.

NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith said on March 18

that money was available to help players while they are not

receiving paychecks during the lockout, which owners imposed after

the collective bargaining agreement expired. Smith would not

provide details.

The NFLPA sent players an email – a copy of which was obtained

by The Associated Press – to let them know its board of player

directors ”approved the payout from the Lockout Fund to begin on

April 15, in six installments or until the lockout ends.”

Players were instructed to fill out a direct deposit enrollment

form attached to the email.

NFL.com first reported Tuesday about the NFLPA email.

Negotiations for a new CBA broke off March 11. The union

announced that day it was dissolving itself and no longer

represented the players. That allowed players to file a

class-action antitrust lawsuit in federal court. Hours later, at

midnight, the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL’s

first work stoppage since 1987.

A hearing on players’ request for an injunction to lift the

lockout is scheduled for April 6 in St. Paul, Minn.

The main sticking point throughout contract talks was how to

divide the NFL’s more than $9 billion in annual revenues.