NEW YORK (AP) The head of the NFL’s negotiating team says it will be much easier to reach a new labor deal if it includes an 18-game regular season.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, NFL executive vice president of labor and chief counsel Jeff Pash also says the league is “focused on a full 2011 season” and the owners want to have an agreement with the players’ union “well before” the summer.

Pash believes the back-and-forth the sides already have had about an 18-game regular season demonstrates they are aware of that subject’s importance to the talks. He says the NFL and union “exchanged detailed proposals” and had “detailed discussions” on that topic and adds that he thinks they’ll “continue to do so.”

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