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Published: Monday, 7/18/2011

Talks to end lockout on fast pace

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Talks to end the NFL lockout will resume with the court-appointed mediator in New York Monday and could continue through Thursday, a person familiar with the talks told the Associated Press.

The mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, originally had ordered representatives of the league's owners and players to meet with him tomorrow in Minneapolis. Now Boylan is expected to arrive in New York Monday to oversee talks aimed at ending the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

The owners have a special meeting set for Thursday in Atlanta, where they potentially could ratify a new deal -- if one is reached by then. Any agreement also must be voted on by groups of players, including the named plaintiffs in a federal antitrust suit against the league, and the NFL Players Association's 32 team representatives.

More than four months into the lockout, owners and players have made significant progress on the framework of an agreement. But re-establishing the union and figuring out what it will take for nine NFL players -- including star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees -- to settle that antitrust suit are among key issues blocking a deal to end the lockout, people familiar with the negotiations told the AP on condition of anonymity.

The unresolved matters also include how the TV networks case, in which the players accused the owners of setting up "lockout insurance," will be settled.

Among the parts mostly squared away following significant progress last week:

● how the more than $9 billion in annual league revenue will be divided;

● a rookie salary system;

● free agency rules;

● a cap of about $120 million for player salaries in 2011, with about another $20 million in benefits.

The lockout began March 12, when negotiations broke down and the old collective bargaining agreement expired. The NFLPA said it was dissolving itself and would no longer be a union that could bargain for all players under labor law, instead saying it was now a trade association.

There is a possibility that the sides will be able to put together a tentative agreement in principle in time to keep the preseason intact. The exhibition opener is scheduled to be the Hall of Fame game between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears on Aug. 7.

Benson arrested on assault charge

AUSTIN -- Bengals running back Cedric Benson was released from jail yesterday after his arrest on an assault charge.

Travis County sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade said Benson's was arrested in downtown Austin on a misdemeanor count of assault with bodily injury with family violence. Benson attorney Sam Bassett said in a statement the arrest followed "a conflict" between Benson and a male former roommate.

Wade said Benson posted a $10,000 bond and was released just before 2 p.m.

Bassett considers the "family violence" aspect of the charge erroneous "since the alleged male victim no longer is member of Mr. Benson's household."



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