Sports

Some players optimistic as labor talks progress

Talks are likely over for the week, so NFL owners are setting their sights on an upcoming meeting in Chicago. Many players are looking beyond then — with optimism — toward getting back to work.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners completed two days of talks Wednesday with NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith and a group of players in Maryland. A person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that the two sides have been making progress at several such meetings in the past three weeks.

The person, who spoke anonymously because details of the discussions aren’t supposed to be made public, also said a new collective bargaining agreement is not imminent.

Nonetheless, several players expressed confidence that a deal will get done soon and training camps will open on time in late July.

“I know that we’ve been talking pretty extensively over the last few weeks,” said New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, one of 10 players whose names are on an antitrust lawsuit against the league. “It seems like things are moving in the right direction, which is very positive. It’s what we always hoped for as players because obviously we’re getting to crunch time here.”

Although no deadlines have been set for the opening of camps, the NFL’s 32 teams soon must decide whether to delay, particularly those clubs that stage a portion of camp out of town. Settling early in July almost certainly would provide for full training camps at previously planned locations.

“I think everyone kind of has that feeling, that this thing’s starting to end,” said Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth, the team’s player representative. “When you look at the time line for both sides, it starts to get real serious around this time.”

The lockout is in its fourth month. During that time, there have been mediation sessions, court actions in Minnesota and Missouri, and clandestine meetings between Goodell and Smith, a handful of owners and players. Some of those talks have included lawyers on both sides, some haven’t..

Brees said to be wary of reports that specific portions of a framework for a new CBA are completed.

“Little steps (are) good. … I think the gap is being narrowed in a lot of different areas,” he said. “But there is progress and that’s a good thing.”

SUPER BOWL SHUFFLE

NFL senior vice president Frank Supovitz said the next Super Bowl in Indianapolis could be moved back one week from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12 if the 2011 season is delayed. He also said Indy would get a future Super Bowl if the lockout canceled the game, something he does not expect.

DO PORN, NFL MIX?

The NFL is investigating possible trademark infringement involving five players who appeared in an advertisement for a party at a Miami Beach nightclub. The party included appearances by porn stars, the Kansas City Star reported.

Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers were shown in their Chiefs uniforms as two of the hosts of the May 20 party. The event was advertised as the official launch for Exxxotica, a three-day, adult-themed expo in Miami.

Also pictured on the flier were Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson, Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford and Bears safety Major Wright, along with six photographs of the porn stars.

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