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NFL LABOR NEGOTIATIONS

NFL owners, players extend collective bargaining talks by a week

The players union and the league will take the weekend off before resuming negotiations about how to share the NFL's $9 billion in annual revenue.

March 04, 2011|By Sam Farmer

Let's make a deal.

That's the optimistic interpretation, at least, of the joint decision by the NFL and NFL Players Assn. on Friday to extend the deadline to reach a new collective bargaining agreement by a week to allow more talks with a federal mediator.

A day earlier, the sides agreed to a 24-hour extension, mere hours before the current CBA was set to expire. At that point, the union was poised to decertify, and the NFL was ready to lock out the players — a standoff that still has the potential to put games at risk. Team owners and players are battling over how to divide the league's annual $9 billion in revenue.

The parties will take a break over the weekend from their talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington, then resume Monday.

"We're obviously having a lot of dialogue," Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday, the 11th day of talks. "We met for a lot of days. And we are going to meet for more."

Jeff Pash, the league's top attorney and lead negotiator, called the negotiations "a challenge" and conceded the sides have "significant differences."

Asked if he is optimistic about the chances for nonbinding mediation leading to a deal, Pash said: "I've never felt that this is something where optimism, pessimism, up, down like it's a weather report is a good way to look at it. We're talking. That's the most important thing. And that's a reason for optimism. Talking is better than litigating. Talking is better than walking away. Let's stay at that."

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, declined to comment specifically on the negotiations Friday. But he addressed fans of the league, saying, "We're not going to let you down."

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesfarmer

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