Source: Owners, players meet in secret

Updated: June 8, 2011, 5:41 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The NFL and its players have again held secret talks, this time Tuesday at a New York City hotel, a source told ESPN.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith and select owners and players were present at the meeting Tuesday, a source familiar with the talks said.

Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan was also in attendance, according to the source.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has no comment on the meeting, first reported by the NFL Network.

This is the second time in the last week the two sides have met, including a three-day session outside Chicago that included Goodell and Smith. The idea is simple: face-to-face negotiations are more likely to lead to a new collective bargaining agreement than court actions.

Last Friday, both sides appeared before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, arguing whether the owners' lockout of the players is legal. The lockout is approaching its third month, with the first preseason game just two months away.

If the federal appeals court orders the lockout lifted, the owners would need to implement a system for free agency, perhaps with a salary cap, and would not get the new business model they are seeking.

The federal appeals court has said it will rule in "due course." Judge Kermit Bye, however, advised the two sides to work it out, saying the court's decision likely will be "something both sides aren't going to like."

Information from ESPN labor analyst Andrew Brandt, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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