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League rejects lawyers, debates damages

MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL has rejected a law firm's request for a conflict-of-interest waiver to represent a group of players seeking to join the antitrust fight against the league.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday the league has notified an unspecificed firm of the denial. Aiello said it would be inappropriate to allow the firm to work with players in a claim against the NFL while one of its partners represents the league in music licensing for shows on NFL Network and NFL Films.

"While we do not know the specifics of the claims that would be asserted or the players who would be involved, we cannot consent to the firm's request to grant a waiver," Aiello said in an e-mail to the AP.

The NFL also argued Thursday in a court filing that players don't deserve millions of dollars in damages after a different federal judge ruled against the league in a wrangling over $4 billion in broadcast revenue.

U.S. District Judge David Doty ruled March 1 that the NFL failed to maximize revenue for both sides to share when it negotiated the last round of television contract extensions with the networks.

The players requested revenue "left on the table" in 2009 and 2010, but lawyers for the league wrote Thursday there's no evidence that networks would've paid more in those years to remove work-stoppage provisions in the deals that would bring the NFL money even if no games are played in 2011.

Doty will preside over a hearing May 12 to consider the damages request.

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Around the league

*Green Bay defensive lineman Johnny Jolly pleaded guilty to a 2008 drug possession charge and was sentenced to probation after striking a deal with prosecutors that wipes out a similar charge filed in March and spares him any time in prison unless he stumbles again. Jolly had faced up to 20 years in prison.

*Former stars will announce the second-round selections of the teams for which they played at the draft in New York next Friday. Andre Reed will announce Buffalo's pick, which will be the second in that round. The league announced it would have players announce the picks for an entire round for the first time.

*Detroit General Manager Martin Mayhew says Matthew Stafford's recovery from surgery on his right, throwing shoulder is going well.

*Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy has organized workouts in Texas for a few of his teammates during the lockout. Several of the wide receivers are joining him in Austin to throw the ball around. Mohamed Massaquoi posted a message on his Twitter page saying that he was headed to Austin for "for some pitch & catch" with McCoy, Josh Cribbs, Carlton Mitchell, Jordan Norwood and "the rest of my Browns brothers!"

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