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NFL, players resume mediation talks over labor deal

The four-hour session is the first since parties extended collective-bargaining deadline by a week. The immediate future of league hangs in balance as sides remain deeply divided on revenue sharing.

March 07, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Assn., heads to the NFL labor meetings on Monday in Washington.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Assn., heads to… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

The NFL and NFL Players Assn. resumed talks Monday before a federal mediator. It was their 12th day of negotiations and first since extending the collective-bargaining deadline by a week, moving it to when Friday turns to Saturday on the East Coast.

Although the talks typically have lasted all day, Monday's session started in the afternoon and ended after four hours.

Every indication is, although the parties might have made some progress on various fronts, the sides remain deeply divided on the main issue of how to share the league's $9 billion in annual revenue.

They are scheduled to continue talks Tuesday morning at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington, which has no authority to issue any ruling — or bind either party to continuing talks — but clearly has compelled them to stay at the negotiating table.

The immediate future of the league hangs in the balance, with team owners threatening to lock out the players, and the NFLPA threatening to decertify as a union, thereby stripping the league of its antitrust exemption.

Conspicuously absent from Monday's talks was union attorney Jeffrey Kessler, a controversial figure the league believes is leading the charge to decertify the union. He said he had previous commitments with other clients. There's no word on whether he will participate in the mediation Tuesday.

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