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Judge to force NFL, players to talk

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MINNEAPOLIS

A federal judge ordered the NFL and the players to resume mediation Thursday before a judge, The Washington Post reported Monday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ordered talks to resume in three days before Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan in Minneapolis. However, Boylan will not have the authority to force the sides into a settlement.

It was reported over the weekend that Nelson was likely to force the NFL and the NFL Players Association back into mediation.

The sides already negotiated for 17 days before federal mediator George Cohen in Washington, D.C. but failed to bridge their differences on how to split up the leagues $9.3 billion in revenue.

The talks, in which Cohen had no authority to impose a resolution, ended March 11 when the NFL Players Association decertified as a union in order to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

The first hearing in the case was last Wednesday in Minneapolis, where Nelson said she would take a couple of weeks to decide on the players' request for an injunction to end the lockout. The players argue they are suffering irreparable harm as a result of the lockout.

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During the hearing, Nelson also said the sides should still be in mediation, working to settle the league's first work stoppage since 1987.

The players' attorneys will meet with Boylan Tuesday, the NFL's legal team will meet with him Wednesday and the mediated talks will begin Thursday.

No matter which way Nelson rules on the players' request for the injunction to end the lockout, the decision is expected to be appealed to the Eighth Circuit.

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