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NFL, players meet for possibly pivotal hearing

June 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The NFL labor dispute heats up in a Missouri courtroom on Friday for a hearing that could be pivotal in ending the lockout.

Nfl Commissioner Roger Goodell and union chief Demaurice Smith are expected to be inside the courtroom.

Ultimately, it will be the decision of a three-judge panel whether the nearly three-month lockout should continue.

Owners and players met for a third straight day of mediated negotiations on Thursday. Both sides issued statements saying they would honor a court-ordered confidentiality agreement.

Training camps, meanwhile, normally would open in about seven weeks, but this, of course, is no normal year for pro football.

Ben Leber, one of 10 plaintiffs on the still-pending antitrust lawsuit against the league, said the players haven't discussed a specific drop-dead date for reaching an agreement to ensure the on-time start of training camps. But he said it's necessary to have a date to reach a deal.

"Both sides have a day, whether they want to make it public or not," Leber said. "The biggest challenge is going to lie with whose day is going to come up first. Once it got to this point, I think it was just a good guess based on most corporate labor disputes that nothing was going to get done until the 11th hour. Now it depends on which 11th hour gets here first."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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