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NFL denies report about lockout ending

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The NFL and the NFL Players Association denied a report Thursday night by a Massachusetts newspaper that the lockout would soon come to an end.

The report late Thursday from the Eagle-Tribune in Massachusetts cited an NFL source as saying that an agreement to end the three-month-long lockout was almost done.

Spokesmen for the NFL and NFLPA quickly denied that a deal was imminent, despite a flurry of private, face-to-face talks over the past week that has led to renewed optimism.

"Joint NFL-NFLPA-Yogi Berra Statement: 'It's not over till it's over,'" said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello on Twitter.

"There's a report that the lockout is over. Umm...no," tweeted NFLPA spokesman George Atallah.

The Eagle-Tribune report claimed some coaches and players had already been contacted about returning to work, possibly as early as this weekend.

The article closely followed a New York Post report of a two-hour-long dinner in Manhattan Wednesday night between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union chief DeMaurice Smith.

The sit-down, described by the Post as "very jovial," came just hours after two days of closed-door talks between the sides on Long Island.

Sources have described the recent negotiations between the league's owners and players as "very serious," according to NFL.com.

The two sides were working to build on three days of negotiations held near Chicago last week, but have refused to divulge any details of the discussions, or whether significant progress has been made.

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