NFL, NFLPA hold secret labor talks
By Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter – ESPN.com June 2, 2011
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith, along with owners and players association officials met Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago to try to bridge some of their significant differences, according to multiple league sources.
The two sides worked into the night Wednesday and continued talks Thursday before wrapping up the meeting in the early afternoon.
Clearly, one day before a scheduled hearing in St. Louis in front of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the two sides are making an effort to determine whether they can work out a settlement that eventually leads to football and a collective bargaining agreement. Thursday is Day 79 of the lockout, the longest work stoppage in NFL history.
One source said any potential deal still was a ways away; however, the hope would be that the two sides could reach an agreement sooner rather than later, potentially even later this month.
With the two sides needing to be in St. Louison Friday, Chicago made sense as a logical meeting place. The Dallas Cowboys‘ Jerry Jones, the New England Patriots‘ Robert Kraft, the Carolina Panthers‘ Jerry Richardson, the New York Giants‘ John Mara and the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Art Rooney were the owners present in Chicago along with Goodell.
NFLPA representatives at the meeting, besides Smith, included Kevin Mawae, the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Mike Vrabel and the Indianapolis Colts‘ Jeff Saturday.
No lawyers — except Smith — were at Wednesday’s talks.
A source involved in the discussions told ESPN.com’s John Clayton that the meeting was requested by the owners.
Following last week’s spring meetings inIndianapolis, owners contacted Smith and U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan to see if there could be a session before Friday’s hearing. Once they agreed upon a city to holding the meeting, both sides agreed to use Tuesday as a travel day and to try to meet Wednesday and Thursday before heading toSt. Louisfor the hearing on Friday.
The meetings were so secretive that, as of Wednesday night there, there were other NFL owners who didn’t know what was taking place.
The NFLPA was equally secretive, declining to respond to inquiries about the meeting and its leaders’ whereabouts.
The two sides have been at a stalemate throughout the spring since the NFLPA decertified and the NFL locked out the players.
The court-mediated session in the Brady vs. NFL antitrust case is scheduled to resume next Tuesday in Minneapolis before Boylan.
Chris Mortensen is ESPN’s senior NFL analyst. Adam Schefter is ESPN’s NFL Insider. Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.
Posted on June 2, 2011, in NFL Alumni News and tagged 4th and Goal, demaurice smith, Fourth & Goal, Fourth and Goal, Kevin Mawae, National Football League, National Football League Players Association, roger goodell. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.