On his way into Wednesday's mediation session in Washington, which wound up lasting about eight hours, Pash said the issue of financial transparency — a key sticking point in labor talks this week — "really should be behind us."
"We've made more information available in the course of this negotiation than has ever been made available in decades of collective bargaining with the NFLPA," Pash said. "Far more information. And we've offered to make even more information (available), including information that we do not disclose to our own clubs."
Pash didn't reveal any specifics of the league's offer and wouldn't comment on the union's response. But A person familiar with the negotiations told the AP that the NFL offered to turn over five years of league-wide profitability data to the union — and that the offer was rejected.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the mediator overseeing the labor talks has told participants not to publicly discuss details.
According to the person who spoke to the AP, the NFL's proposal to the union included:
audited league-wide profitability data with dollar figures from 2005-09 that wouldn't show information on a club-by-club basis;
the number of teams that have seen a shift in profitability in that span;
an independent auditor to examine the data.
The NFLPA long has demanded that the league give it complete access to financial data — including team-by-team information — and made that a central issue in contract talks.
"As you know, the NFLPA does not have access to a wide range of information that is directly relevant to the contention that the current CBA fails to address the owners' concerns," Smith wrote to Goodell in 2009.
"For example," the letter said, "the NFL and the teams do not provide the NFLPA with their audited financial statements detailing the profit (loss) information for the teams. We also lack the information to discern the profits (losses) per regular season games, the profit per team per playoff game and other fixed financial non-player costs."
The CBA dates to 2006, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008. The deal was set to expire last week, but two extensions now have pushed the cutoff to the end of Friday.
Goodell was joined by three members of the owners' 10-person labor committee: Art Rooney II of the Pittsburgh Steelers, John Mara of the New York Giants, and Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs. More owners are expected to attend on Thursday.
If a deal isn't reached by Friday, the sides could agree to another extension. Or talks could break off, leading to, possibly, a lockout by owners or antitrust lawsuits by players.
"The commissioner said 'talking is better than litigating.' Talking is better than, you know, going to DEFCON 3 or whatever term I've heard thrown around," Pash said. "So let's keep at it."
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