NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union executive director DeMaurice Smith spoke face-to-face in New York on Wednesday, while 13 current and two former players were on Capitol Hill in Washington for face time with lawmakers and congressional staffers.
Union spokesman George Atallah characterized the session between Goodell and Smith as “an effort to advance the bargaining,” rather than a formal negotiating session toward a new labor contract. Atallah would not discuss the substance of the meeting in any detail.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment via e-mail — and, indeed, would not even confirm that the two leaders were meeting.
The league and union acknowledged last week that they have not held a large-group bargaining session since November. The present collective bargaining agreement – it was agreed to in 2006, but owners activated an opt-out clause – expires in early March, and the union expects owners to lock out the players.
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At a meeting of owners in Atlanta on Tuesday, Goodell complained that “there’s not enough communication” between the sides. Also in Atlanta, Jeff Pash, the league’s lead labor negotiator, took a swipe at the union by saying: “If our focus is going to be on litigating, on decertification, on meetings in Washington, on media events, it will be hard to get a deal done.”
The union has held team-by-team votes to approve decertification, which would allow the players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league if there is a lockout. The union also has filed two claims with a special master — one accuses the league of improperly assuring itself of TV revenues even if there are no games played next season; the other accuses teams of collusion in conspiring to restrict players’ salaries last offseason.
“Every business in America, especially a $9 billion industry, has a presence on the Hill,” said Atallah. “This is not negotiating through Congress. This is just players and employees sharing their issues with people that should care.”
NO MORA IN DENVER
John Fox is still searching for a defensive coordinator to join him in Denver after failing to lure Jim Mora to help fix the Broncos’ dismal defense.
The former head coach in Seattle and Atlanta spent two days in Denver meeting with Fox but left without a contract and informed the team later he wouldn’t be joining the Broncos.
Prosecutors in Wayne County, Mich., are considering whether to bring charges against an unnamed Detroit Lions player who was accused of sexual misconduct by a 22-year-old woman during a private party at a suburban Detroit restaurant.
The woman claims the incident occurred during the early morning hours of Jan. 4 at the Ironwood Grill in Plymouth, where a group of about 10 Lions players and support staff reportedly had joined a private party.
The woman’s attorney said his client will file a civil lawsuit against the player.
The 49ers hired former University of Washington assistant Ed Donatell as secondary coach, Geep Chryst as quarterbacks coach and Jim Leavitt as linebackers coach. Donatell was secondary coach for the Broncos the past two seasons. Tennessee safety Michael Griffin will replace injured Baltimore safety Ed Reed on the AFC Pro Bowl roster. Rob Ryan, twin brother of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, was hired by Dallas as its defensive coordinator. The Eagles hired longtime Titans assistant Jim Washburn to be their defensive line coach. Cam Newton and Nick Fairley of national champion Auburn are among 56 non-seniors who applied for April’s NFL draft – a record total. The most notable player to announce on Wednesday was Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget. The St. Louis Rams lost quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach Dick Curl, 70, to retirement.