The NFL and the players' union wrapped up a sixth consecutive day of mediated talks Wednesday in Washington, D.C. - and they will meet again today.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and most of his negotiating group — including four current players — left Wednesday’s session at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service a little after 5:30 p.m.
That was less than an hour after Smith and a dozen members of the union’s team returned from a half-hour break. It wasn’t clear what, if any, significance the break holds, although it was the first time since the mediation began Friday that either side left the building en masse in the middle of a day. Generally, the groups have arrived in the morning and departed in the evening.
They’ve met for a total of more than 40 hours so far.
Smith and others in the union contingent declined to comment, abiding by mediator George Cohen’s request that the sides refrain from talking to the press.
“I just can’t say anything. I’m afraid of Mr. Cohen,” NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash said when he left, about an hour after Smith did. “I’m going to just say, ‘No comment.’ See you tomorrow morning.”
The current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day March 3.
NFLPA executive committee members Brian Dawkins of the Denver Broncos, Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts, and Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters of the Kansas City Chiefs participated Wednesday. Nine of that committee’s 11 members have been present at some point during these six days of talks; union president Kevin Mawae and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees have not been seen entering or exiting the meetings.
Today in Indianapolis, the league will hold a meeting for general managers, coaches and other officials.
Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay says the NFL’s competition committee is discussing ways to make football safer but has not yet come up with a proposal.
The committee met for a second day in Indianapolis, concurrent with the annual scouting combine.
Meanwhile, the league said it will use a new sideline test to determine concussions next season.
Details of the evaluation will be announced on Friday, but the league says the new test will include a checklist of symptoms, a limited neurologic evaluation and a balance assessment.
A source said Houston running back Arian Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The Steelers said linebacker LaMarr Woodley signed its one-year franchise tender offer. The Colts and quarterback Peyton Manning are continuing talks toward a new contract, Indianapolis GM Bill Polian said, but no deal is expected this weekend while much of the NFL heirarchy is in town for the scouting combine. Jacksonville put the non-exclusive franchise tag on Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis. Meanwhile, the team signed defensive end Paul Spicer to a one-day contract so he can retire as a member of the Jags. New York Jets coach Rex Ryan plays himself in an episode of “CSI: NY” that will air in the spring.