The NFL and its locked-out players wrapped up another round of court-ordered mediation yesterday without any signs of a new agreement and the clock ticking on the 2011 season.
Officials and attorneys for both sides said they will return for more closed-door talks with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan on June 7, 4 days after a key appeals court hearing in St. Louis on the legality of the lockout.
NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash and former Vikings standout Carl Eller both said the talks went well, but there was no indication of any progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement. Pash said he thought Boylan had done a good job of "pushing the parties," but he doesn't believe the dispute over the future of the $9 billion business will be settled in court.
"The only way we're going to solve this is by sitting down together," Pash said, echoing the NFL's preference for traditional negotiations outside the courts. "I think we got some work done today and we're going to keep at it."
They've been at it for a long time. The two sides met for 16 days before talks fell apart March 11 and the lockout began. Boylan, who presided over 4 days of mediation last month and 2 more days this week, also had lunch with DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
* NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and supporters of a Minnesota Vikings stadium that the league will contribute financially to its construction, and that he believes efforts to get the facility built are ensuring the team's future in the state.
The NFL commissioner met early in the morning at the governor's residence with Dayton, legislators sponsoring the stadium bill and state Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel to talk about the team's partnership with Ramsey County to build a $1.1 billion stadium in suburban Arden Hills.
Goodell would not reveal how much the league would kick in, saying he would release more details in the next few days. As part of its deal with Ramsey County, the Vikings pledged to pay $407 million.
* The Cleveland Browns have dismissed Jerry Butler, the team's director of player development for the past 10 years.