DeMaurice Smith (Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
It appears the NFL owners and the NFL players are back talking again. By all accounts that’s a good thing.
But with the start of the NFL season fast approaching, what seems troubling is that there has been no clear signs that the lockout that began March 12 is about to end anytime soon. The principles from the two sides, along with Judge Arthur Boylan, met in “secret” in New York Tuesday and Wednesday, according to several media outlets. They are planning to meet again soon.
The problem is the two sides have been meeting and negotiating since the winter but there hasn’t seemed to be much progress as the owners look to take a greater share of the $9 billion in revenue the NFL makes.
"I don't think having the meetings is necessarily a sign for optimism," agent Ben Dogra said to the Associated Press. "But the fact both sides are meeting and will continue to meet in undisclosed locations, and that ownership is present, is a good sign that both parties are continuing to talk through the issues."
The players are seeking through the court system to have the lockout lifted and the owners have fought back to have the work stoppage continue until concessions are made. It seems almost certain this mess will be resolved in a courtroom instead of a boardroom.
A judge in St. Louis moved up an appeals hearing filed by the players from Sept. 12 to Aug. 29—nine days before the scheduled start of the regular season—to hear the antitrust case that could end the lockout.
In the meantime, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith along with a handful of players and owners will continue to meet at undisclosed locations to negotiate a deal that might bring us football at its scheduled time.
"NFL owners and players continue to be engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan," the two sides said in a joint statement. "Both sides met again this week as part of ongoing court mediation. Those discussions are expected to continue."
But the question most are wondering is if these discussions don’t result in any real movement, then what? As it stands, the start of the season seems destined to be pushed back maybe a month. Worst case scenario is there is no season at all.
Goodell, however, sounds much more optimistic.
"I believe it's the objective of everybody involved with the NFL to play a full 2011 season," Goodell said in a story published by the Associated Press. "That's certainly what we're working towards, and I think the players are working towards that, too. It's for the good of the game, it's for the good of the people involved in the game and it's absolutely good for the fans."