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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
NFL calls special meeting

By Adam Schefter
ESPN

The NFL has called a special meeting Thursday, on the first day of the combine in Indianapolis, for all NFL general managers and head coaches.

Three members per team are being told to attend -- general manager, coach and another high-ranking team official, league sources said.

At the meeting, the NFL is expected to brief teams on any number of issues pertaining to labor uncertainty and football operations, including what to expect in the days leading up to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, the manner of league business that will be allowed this offseason, and the type of contact that teams will be permitted to have with agents.

The meeting is expected to be held at 5:30 p.m. ET Thursday.

The NFL confirmed the meeting was taking place in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

"It's a normal part of the combine, which is always filled with meetings galore," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote. "There was such a meeting last year. It's not the first time."

After months of infrequent and sometimes contentious bargaining, the league and union have been communicating face to face in Washington since Friday with the help of mediator George Cohen.

The sides talked for the sixth straight day Wednesday, with Denver Broncos cornerback Brian Dawkins, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel and guard Brian Waters in attendance, along with former player Sean Morey.

They joined commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and their respective negotiating teams for the talks that consumed 35 hours in the first five days.

All participants have been abiding by Cohen's request not to discuss the talks publicly, and few hints of progress -- or lack thereof -- have been evident from either side.

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to try mediation in a bid to find common ground before the current labor deal expires at the end of the day March 3. The union has said it believes team owners want to lock out the players as soon as the next day, which could threaten the 2011 season.

The mediation is voluntary -- in theory, each side could walk away at any time -- yet it now appears likely that the current round of talks will stretch through Thursday, which would make for a full week.

One indication: The union sent a memo Tuesday to let player agents know that their meeting that was scheduled for Thursday in Indianapolis has been postponed to Friday because of the mediation.

Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.