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Commissioner calls Saturday's meeting with union 'beneficial'

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Sunday morning that this weekend's bargaining session with the players' union in Dallas was "beneficial."

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that aired the morning of Super Bowl XLV, Goodell called drug testing a key issue in labor talks.

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Goodell said "a number of" individual players and owners participated in a two-hour meeting Saturday, the first formal bargaining session since Nov. 22. The collective bargaining agreement expires March 3.

"It's always a positive when both parties are talking," Goodell said.

Outlining major sticking points, Goodell talked about revenue division, rookie salaries and benefits for retired players.

"We want to continue on with the integrity of the game, which is my No. 1 issue," Goodell said, adding the league wants to make sure "we have the best drug program in sports."

The NFL and NFL Players Association issued a joint statement following Saturday's session at a Dallas hotel.

"The NFL and NFL Players Association met for two hours today in a continuing effort to narrow the differences and reach a fair agreement that will benefit the players, teams and fans," the statement read. "We plan to increase the number, length and intensity of bargaining sessions so that we can reach agreement before the March 4 expiration of the current CBA."

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Two more sessions already are scheduled for next week.

During his annual Super Bowl news conference Friday, Goodell said it was imperative to reach an agreement before the CBA expires.

"I frequently have said that I think March 4 is a very critical date," Goodell said. "A lot of different strategies will take place if we're not successful in getting an agreement by that time.

"We need to have intensive, round-the clock negotiations to address the issues and find solutions. I can assure you that I have that sense of urgency and I believe both sides do."

The league estimates there would be a cut in gross revenues of $120 million without a new agreement by early March; $350 million if there's no CBA by August, before the preseason starts; $1 billion if no new contract is in place until September. And if regular-season games are lost, the NFL figures the revenue losses would amount to about $400 million per week.

The old deal was agreed to in 2006 and could have been in place until 2012, but owners exercised an opt-out clause in 2008.

For more NFL labor news, go to http://www.NFLLabor.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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