The NFL and the players' union wrapped up a sixth consecutive day of mediated talks Wednesday — and they will meet again today.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and most of his negotiating group — including four current players — left Wednesday's session at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service a little after 5:30 p.m. in Washington.
That was less than an hour after Smith and a dozen members of the union's team returned from a 11/2-hour break. It wasn't clear what, if any, significance the break holds, although it was the first time since the mediation began Friday that either side left the building en masse in the middle of a day. Generally, the groups have arrived in the morning and departed in the evening.
They've met for a total of more than 40 hours so far.
Smith and others in the union contingent declined to comment, abiding by mediator George Cohen's request that the sides stay silent. Nothing about what's been discussed has been revealed by either side.
"I just can't say anything. I'm afraid of Mr. Cohen," NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash said when he left, about an hour after Smith did. "I'm going to just say, 'No comment.' See you tomorrow morning."
The current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day March 3, and the voluntary mediation is seen as an attempt to spur progress.
NFLPA executive committee members Brian Dawkins of the Denver Broncos, Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts, and Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters of the Kansas City Chiefs participated Wednesday. Nine of that committee's 11 members have been present at some point during these six days of talks; union president Kevin Mawae and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees have not been seen entering or exiting the meetings.
On Thursday, the league will hold a meeting for general managers, coaches and other officials at the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.
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