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The locked-out NFL players don't want to go back to collective bargaining with the league. They have now made a move to allow their former union boss to be present if court-supervised talks take place between the two sides.

Attorneys for the NFL and the players held a conference call Friday to discuss mediation with U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who is currently deciding whether to lift the lockout.

League spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the call took place and said Nelson wanted details to remain private. Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the players, declined to comment.

The most notable development Friday was the formal addition of DeMaurice Smith as an attorney for the players. Smith is the executive director of the NFL Players Association, which is now officially a trade association and not a union. Lawyers who practice in a different state must file for approval through the court.

NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis confirmed that the move allows Smith to participate in any mediation sessions that might take place under Nelson's supervision.

After a hearing Wednesday on the players' request for an injunction to stop the lockout, Nelson urged both sides to resume talks toward a new labor pact. Negotiations broke down last month.

Both sides expressed a willingness to talk again after the hearing, but the NFL wants to resume negotiations before a federal mediator in Washington while the players prefer to remain in Nelson's court.


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