It is a period of civil war in the football world. Everyone knows the story so far. It started when the NFLPA decertified as a union in a pre-emptive measure against the owners. The NFL owners responded by locking out the players. The Players Association sued the NFL in the early part of March. The Players Association won their first major battle against the
Galactic Empire NFL by getting the lockout lifted, for all of four days. The NFL struck back by getting a temporary stay in late April, and there hasn't been a whole lot of movement since then. At least until now.
Last night, DeMaurice Smith met with Roger Goodell in Chicago for a secret meeting to discuss the status of the NFL lockout. Representing the owners with Goodell was Jerrah Jones, the Panthers' Jerry Richardson, the Giants' John Mara, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Steelers owner Art Rooney. Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel, Kevin Mawae among others. These meetings are supposed to continue through today.
Personally, I take this as a very good sign, and I am not exactly known for my optimism. First of all, mediator Arthur Boylan was there, which meant that they were at least trying to find some kind of common ground. Second, there were no lawyers present, which is, I think at least, much more conducive to hammering out a long-term CBA deal. I also think it's interesting that they chose to meet just before the NFL and the players are due to have their court case heard. I really think neither side in this fight wants the fate of their sport to be determined by three judges, particularly the players, considering the conservative bent of this panel and their previous ruling granting the NFL a temporary stay of Judge Nelson's ruling.
I also think that the players and owners are both finally starting to realize that they're quickly running out of time to make sure that a full slate of games are played this season. Maybe they're close to done preening and posturing for the media. Then again, I'm an optimist.
Ultimately, I think this will get done fairly soon. The players want to play, the owners want our money, and I just want to eat nachos and drink beer on Sundays.
UPDATE: According to SportsRadio 610, the scheduled mediation for next week has been cancelled and there's some talk, although it's still early and therefore anything can change, that the league and the Player's Association are in "settlement talks."
This would be a very good sign considering the last time there was labor strife in the NFL, they went from mediation to settlement to a CBA deal very quickly.