- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, New York Giants owner John Mara and NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash have arrived at a federal mediator’s office to resume negotiations on a new labor deal.

Representatives from the NFL and the players’ union are expected to meet later Monday after taking a break in talks over the weekend.

The collective bargaining agreement now expires at the end of Friday, thanks to two extensions. The league and NFL Players Association have made progress during 11 days at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, but still remain apart on key economic issues.

The NFL has not lost games to a work stoppage since 1987.

The current CBA was agreed to in 2006. Owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Five more days.

Negotiators for the NFL and the players’ union begin five days and nights _ at least _ of talks toward reaching a new collective bargaining agreement on Monday. Failure by the time Friday ends could mean the first pro football work stoppage since 1987.

Enough progress was made in 11 days of meetings overseen by federal mediator George Cohen that two extensions to the current CBA were granted: first for 24 hours, then for seven days. That doesn’t mean the owners and players association are on the verge of any major breakthroughs.

But, unlike in the previous months when there was little movement _ except in opposite directions _ the two reprieves last week were encouraging.

“I think what the mediators bring to the process is a structure and a discipline that wasn’t always there,” said Jeff Pash, NFL executive vice president and chief negotiator. “They inject a seriousness of purpose to it. They encourage you. They keep you going.”

So they will keep going on such issues as how to split the $9 billion in revenues America’s most popular sport rakes in. And a potential 18-game regular season, a rookie wage scale, health benefits, and pensions.

“It’s a positive thing to have a mediator involved and that’s just a personal feeling,” Saints tackle and player representative Jon Stinchcomb said. “Any time there’s a third party with no dog in the hunt, sometimes he can show where you’re just being stubborn and where you need to give some ground.”

Where might that be?

The owners’ request that about $2 billion of total revenues be deducted before they split the rest with the players has been a sticking point ever since 2008, when the owners opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement. They already deduct about $1 billion for operating expenses from the overall take, and it might be _ might be _ easier reaching accord on that subject than on expanding the regular season to 18 games.

Story Continues →