NFL, NFLPA hold secret labor talks

By Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter –  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 ChiefsMike Vrabel and the Indianapolis ColtsJeff Saturday.

No lawyers — except Smith — were at Wednesday’s talks.

A source involved in the discussions told’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


About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on June 2, 2011, in NFL Alumni News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. eugene morris

    Jeff, I am going to send you a copy of a work paper that I developed to refute the statement made by The NFLPA lawyer on behalf of De Smith and Miki Yaras Davis.Read it when you get a chance. I read your piece about how the Retired Players were left out of the conversation about resolving our issues on retirement benefits.I am currently waiting on the courts to decide the outcome of a Motion for Summary Judgment on the legality of the 1976 Early payment benefit.If it works, the courts could reverse the Boards decision on everybody who took that benefit and make the retirement board pay back every player who took that 25% reduction but left football prior to march 1st 1977.I should have a ruling before august. If the court rules in my favor, every player who took that EPB has a chance to recover the 25% from the Plan. If you are interested in reviewing the complaint I will send it to you.

    • Ray Easterling


      I played free safety for the Atlanta Falcons for 9 [ 1972-1980 ] seasons. I took early retirement and it disqualifies me from T & P Disability. I have been recently diagnosis – ed with brain disease because of multiple concussions sustain, while playing? My question is how can some one be excluded, who is unknowingly mentally impaired, and my judgement being skewed by this silent but deadly predator in my brain? I have been admitted to the 88 program, but excluded from T & P-how is that possible? I ask the entities,” when you go home at night and the first time you see either your wife, children, or grandchildren–the clock starts and in 2 years you will never see them again.Live with that, My daughter is 28 and does not plan a family for 2 more years. I do not qualify-we will see is all I am going to say!

  2. Eugene, I read your comments regarding the Motion for
    Summary Judgement on the legality of the 1976 Early payment benefit. I am one of those. Can you fill me in on exactly what is going on? I am glad to hear some one is working for us. Thanks in advance for the info if you can supply it. Lindon

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