"Lockout is coming." says NFLPU in a letter to all it's players.

In a letter to the players that was seen by The Associated Press, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union had an "internal deadline" for agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement.

"That deadline has now passed," he wrote. "It is important that you protect yourself and your family."

Perhaps this is a kick in the rear to the NFL, an impending warning. That the players aren't messing around and they don't like what they've been given on the table. However, several parts of this article is quite chilling, including this next bit.

The one-page letter on NFLPA stationery said the union expects the lockout on March 4, and that players should work with their advisers to prepare for an impending lack of income.

It also said the league threatened to cancel the players' health insurance.

The union said it is filing a grievance to contest a cancellation of health insurance, citing a section of the collective bargaining agreement that states: "Players will continue to receive the benefits provided in this article through the end of the Plan Year in which they are released or otherwise sever employment."

Woah woah woah! Time out here. The NFL threatened to cancel their health care coverage? If this low blow turns out to be legitimate, then I'm sure that the NFL hasn't made much progress at all in the negotiations. Are we really talking about things like the extending the NFL season to 18 games and ending a lot of these silly contact penalties that is plaguing the NFL today? Or is it two sides at a table staring each other down, waiting for the other to roll over and die?

The NFL has done it's best to distance themselves from the statement however, speaking through NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello that players are allowed through the federal COBRA that players are allowed to continue their health care coverage at their own expense.

"This means that no player or family member would experience any change in coverage for so much as a single day because of a work stoppage," he said. "The union surely knows this and there is no excuse for suggesting otherwise."

So who's telling the truth and who's full of it? Remember, this is just a month after the NFLPU and the NFL met together and said that they had made some headway over an agreement with a 18 game season. A lot of things have happened since then. The NFLPU have taken their case to Congress who ignored them, and they reached out to the public by hiring an economist who estimated that each league city would lose 160 million in local spending and 3,000 jobs on average.

Even now, I remember Moose's warning during his last year in Carolina.

"I think it's very important that we show some restraint on spending a lot of money and being frivolous," said receiver Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina's union representative. "I think young players need to worry about necessities, because after two years nothing is guaranteed."

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