WASHINGTON (KDKA/AP) – After weeks of no formal meetings between the league and the union, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sat down with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith in New York Wednesday.
The meeting was not a formal negotiating session; instead, they discussed how both sides can advance the bargaining process.
While Goodell and Smith were together in New York, current and former players were in Washington D.C. to talk with lawmakers in advance of a potential lockout.
Union spokesman George Atallah would not discuss the substance of the gathering in any detail. Meanwhile, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello would not even confirm Goodell and Smith were meeting.
Earlier in the week, Goodell attended an owners’ meeting in Atlanta. He said there that “there’s not enough communication” between the league and the union.
His lead negotiator, Jeff Pash, has said that if the focus of the union is on “litigating, on decertification, on meetings in Washington, on media events, it will be hard to get a deal done.”
Throughout the season each team has held votes to decertify the union in case of a lockout. The decertification would allow the the players to file antitrust lawsuits against the league in the event of a lockout.
The former and current players that were in Washington D.C. were there for a “meet & greet” session with lawmakers.
The league suspects the players are looking for Congress to get involved in the dispute despite a statement from the union’s counsel for public policy and government relations head Joe Briggs.
According to Briggs: “We’re not asking for members of Congress to get involved in this fight at all.”
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee released a statement before meeting with the players saying, “it is a business dispute, the owners and players are both literally and figuratively big boys and do not need Congress to referee every dispute for them.”