The ball is in the players’ court in the labor mess. Earlier, we feared they’d dribble it off a foot. Instead, they’ve called timeout.

The 32 player representatives are not expected to vote tonight on the ratified proposal sent their way by the owners, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and others.

I don’t know what’s worse: a rejection and/or counter-proposal or a refusal to cast ballots. Either way, it’s become apparent that the majority of players are not satisfied with what’s on the table. The league has been widely accused of making a power play by shoving this proposal down the players’ throats publicly.

Earlier, three e-mails were reportedly sent to the players — one from DeMaurice Smith, one from an unknown sender and another from NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen¬†– that were more than mildly critical of the proposal (the latest from Berthelsen even claimed that the league may have violated federal labor laws). Since then, several players have voiced their displeasure.

The problem is that a lot of the players simply haven’t seen the detailed proposal yet. The conference call that took place at 8:00 p.m. ET was only about an hour after the owners ratified the proposed CBA, which means the players will likely require some time to review said details before getting back to the league.

Another problem could be that the players airing their grievances simply aren’t (or weren’t) caught up on the latest. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had an hour-long phone conversation with Smith only minutes prior to the owners’ vote. Unless that conversation ended very badly, you’d have to believe that progress was made that hadn’t been revealed to Smith’s constituents when all hell broke loose.

The point is, there’s no way this ratified proposal took Smith or his executive committee by surprise. The players may just need time to digest what just went down.

In the meantime, we’d encourage players to shut up. Don’t take to Twitter or text reporters claiming you’ve been bamboozled unless the people in the room tell you that’s the case. If content that wasn’t negotiated was “slipped in” to this proposal, mediator Arthur Boylan will know.

The truth will come out.

Do I expect them to approve this agreement? Nope. But I expect them to counter with whatever they feel is missing, and I expect that process to move quickly. The Hall of Fame Game was cancelled with 17 days to spare, which means the league will have to consider calling off the first week of the preseason by early next week.

Both sides feel that pressure. If further negotiation is necessary, it has to happen now.