NEW YORK — Calling the players' offer "fair for both sides," star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees — plaintiffs in an antitrust suit against the NFL — said Wednesday "it is time" to wrap up negotiations on a deal to end the league's lockout.
Brady, Manning and Brees spoke as a group publicly for the first time with talks in a critical phase, four months into the league's first work stoppage since 1987. Players and owners met Wednesday morning at a Manhattan law office for the latest round of discussions. Talks continued into the evening.
Deadlines are coming up next week to get training camps and the preseason started on time. Although it seems the sides have agreed on the basic elements of how to split more than $9 billion in annual revenues, among the key sticking points recently have been how to structure a new rookie salary system and what free agency will look like.
In a statement released to The Associated Press via the NFL Players Association, New England's Brady, Indianapolis' Manning and New Orleans' Brees said: "We believe the overall proposal made by the players is fair for both sides and it is time to get this deal done."
They continued: "This is the time of year we as players turn our attention to the game on the field. We hope the owners feel the same way."
In response, the NFL issued a statement saying: "We share the view that now is the time to reach an agreement so we can all get back to football and a full 2011 season. We are working hard with the players' negotiating team every day to complete an agreement as soon as possible."
Harrison: Goodell a 'devil'
Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a "crook" and a "devil," among other insults, in a magazine article.
The 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year hasn't been shy about ripping the league after he was docked $100,000 for illegal hits last season. In the August issue of Men's Journal, his rants against Goodell reach another level of wrath.
"If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it," Harrison told the magazine. "I hate him and will never respect him."
His other descriptions of the commissioner include an anti-gay slur, "stupid," "puppet" and "dictator."
Harrison also criticizes other NFL execs, Patriots-turned-commentators Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi ("clowns"), Houston's Brian Cushing ("juiced out of his mind") — and even teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger for their performances in the Super Bowl loss.
Harrison calls the running back a "fumble machine" for his fourth-quarter turnover. Mendenhall said on Twitter on Wednesday he didn't have a problem with what Harrison said "because I know him." But he also included a link to his stats from last season, which show he didn't have a pattern of fumbling.
Of the quarterback's two interceptions, Harrison says: "Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does."
Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement that he hadn't seen the article or talked to Harrison.
"We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted once the labor situation is resolved," he said.
Vikings have a roof over their helmets again
The Minnesota Vikings have a roof over their helmets once again.
Seven months after the Metrodome's Teflon-coated fiberglass ceiling collapsed in a snowstorm, forcing the Vikings to play their final two home games last season elsewhere, the new roof has been raised in plenty of time for the first preseason game.
Stadium officials and construction workers inflated the roof Wednesday morning as a test. No problems popped up, so the roof of the 29-year-old stadium will stay up while the finishing touches are put on a rebuilding project that began in March.
The new roof sits a little lower than before, to better withstand strong winds and help prevent snow from piling up in drifts. But it still sports the puffy, muffin-top look that frames the east side of the downtown Minneapolis skyline. The 10-acre surface, just one-16th of an inch thick, is held up by several 100-horsepower fans.