- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - Brian Dawkins, Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters were part of the NFL labor talks Wednesday as the sessions with the league, the players’ union and a federal mediator moved into a sixth day.

Denver Broncos cornerback Dawkins, Indianapolis Colts center Saturday and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Vrabel and guard Waters, along with former player Sean Morey, arrived in the morning at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

They joined Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and their respective negotiating teams for the talks that consumed 35 hours over the first five days.

The four players and Morey belong to the NFLPA’s executive committee, which has had at least nine members represented at some point during the talks in the office of mediator George Cohen. Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth was among those sitting in on the sessions Tuesday.

All participants have been abiding by Cohen’s request not to discuss the talks publicly, and few hints of progress _ or lack thereof _ have been evident from either side.

“Every report about what’s happening in the room at this point is pure speculation,” union spokesman George Atallah wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The talks with Cohen are expected to continue through Thursday. The union called off a meeting it was supposed to hold on that day with player agents at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, citing the ongoing mediation. Instead, the NFLPA will host agents on Friday.

After months of infrequent and sometimes contentious bargaining, the league and union have been communicating face-to-face since Friday.

They agreed to try mediation in a bid to find common ground before the current labor deal expires at the end of the day March 3. The union has said it believes team owners want to lock out the players as soon as the next day, which could threaten the 2011 season.

The league and union went more than two months without any formal bargaining until Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl. The sides met again once the next week, then called off a second meeting that had been scheduled for the following day.

The most recent CBA was signed in 2006, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.

The biggest issue separating the sides is how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues. Among the other significant points in negotiations: a rookie wage scale; the owners’ push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; and benefits for retired players.


AP Sports Writer Joseph White contributed to this report.

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