NEW YORK (AP) — Members of the NFL Players’ Association executive board and team owners met for hours Thursday at a law firm in Manhattan, hoping another push could finally resolve the labor lockout that began in March.
In addition to the latest round of negotiations, a conference call involving the plaintiffs in the players’ lawsuit against the league had been scheduled for Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the two sides are not announcing details of the labor situation.
The players group at the meeting included NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, while the NFL owners were represented by Robert Kraft of the Patriots, John Mara of the New York Giants and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith also joined the meeting.
Lawyers for both sides gathered on Tuesday and Wednesday to put together some of the paperwork that will be needed when a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement is struck.
Players and owners have been involved in six sets of negotiations around the country over the last several weeks, with pressure mounting to make a deal.
Some training camps are set to open in less than three weeks and the first exhibition game, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions, is Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio. Hall of Fame president Steve Perry has said the plan now is that the game will go on as scheduled.
“They are now up against a hard deadline,” said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports business consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd., and a keen observer of the league’s business side. “July 15 is effectively a hard deadline to make sure to get all the preseason games in. If they go beyond July 15, you likely start losing preseason games and it means less money is available overall to do a deal to satisfy both parties.”
The pressure was turned up another notch with the New York attorney general’s office launching an investigation into whether the lockout violates the state’s antitrust laws. The players have already brought a federal antitrust lawsuit against the league in Minnesota.
New York Assistant Attorney General Richard Schwartz said in a letter this week to Goodell that the lockout will “inflict significant economic injuries statewide.” The Jets have canceled their planned training camp in the small upstate city of Cortland.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.