NFL and union resume "important few days" of labor talks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith are resuming labor talks on Wednesday aimed at ending the lockout after traveling together to speak to rookie players.

The next few days of talks will be focused on trying to end a months-long lockout of players by reaching a new collective bargaining agreement after the old one expired in March.

"This is an important few days," Goodell said after he and Smith spoke to rookies attending a symposium in Florida before flying to Minnesota to resume negotiations. "We're going to get back to work."

Some owners have hinted that a new agreement is needed by July 4 for a full schedule of activities, including training camps and preseason games, but Goodell said the league had a range of contingency plans in case there was no agreement.

Goodell was invited to speak to the rookies by Smith and the two had breakfast together before taking questions from the players. But after taking a break from labor talks the two sides felt it was time to resume discussions.

"We are continuing to work very hard," Smith said. "(The bargaining process) is about getting a fair deal done and getting back to football as soon as possible."

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)