Thank you very much for your input. In the spirit of documenting things for others to follow, this is what I did to turn a .ova appliance into something that VMPlayer can use:
1) I downloaded a program called "ovftool" from VM Ware's website: https://developercenter.vmware.com/web/dp/tool/ovf
2) I installed the program in linux by making the downloaded file (a *.bundle file) by running: "sudo chmod +x *.bundle
" (without the quotes)
3) I installed the ovftool by running "./*bundle"
without the quotes.
4) I went into the directory where the *.ova tool is located, and ran the following command: ovftool name_of_appliance.ova desired_name_of_appliance.vmx
For completeness, you can find the following OVF Tool Guide:
Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.