PHILADELPHIA — Full-scale talks aimed at quickly ending the NFL strike began Wednesday as non-union players crossed picket lines and began practicing to replace the striking players.
Among those reporting were two union defectors--Randy White of the Dallas Cowboys and Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets.
The NFL, meantime, said Sunday's games have not been officially canceled.
Negotiators sat down at 3 p.m. EDT, midway through the second full day of the strike. By 7 p.m., they were just starting to discuss what was expected to be the most critical item of business--free agency.
The negotiators broke for dinner at about 9 p.m. but returned about an hour later to continue the talks.
"The two sides are continuing to meet. There is no indication how long the meeting will last," John Jones, a spokesman for the NFL Management Council, said at a press briefing. "Free agency is the key issue. There is dialogue and discussion but no sense that a settlement is at hand."
From 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., the two chief negotiators, union boss Gene Upshaw and management head Jack Donlan, met twice face-to-face and twice reported back to their respective executive committees.