MINNEAPOLIS, MN (AP) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith met for labor talks in Minnesota on Tuesday without players or owners present, people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Three people told the AP that the two power brokers and staff members got together to resume negotiations aimed at ending a lockout now in its fourth month. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no labor developments are being made public.
NFL.com first reported that Goodell and Smith were meeting.
Smith planned to go to Florida later Tuesday or Wednesday morning to attend a symposium for rookies in Bradenton. People familiar with the situation also said player representatives planned a conference call Tuesday to discuss the negotiations.
The two sides were planning to meet through Friday. The key issue in the dispute centers on how to divide revenues after the league took in about $9.3 billion last year.
On Monday, a small group of players met with their attorneys in Minneapolis, where the players have filed an antitrust suit against the league. The city also is where the sides met for court-ordered mediation in May.
Previous “secret meetings” between both sides have taken place in suburban Chicago, New York, the Maryland shore and last week in Hull, Mass., south of Boston.
Time is becoming an increasingly important factor in reaching a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement. The St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 7, are set to open training camp three weeks from Friday.
The lockout began on March 12, and players — except for when the work stoppage was briefly lifted in April — have not been allowed to train at team facilities or be in contact with any of their coaches.
Players on several teams have practiced on their own, trying to keep in football shape so they’ll be prepared to get back to business on the field whenever the labor impasse ends.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)