The two came to Minnesota Monday to continue their face-to-face negotiations and, by all accounts, will be returning tonight to continue those negotiations. They're an odd couple to be sure, but they aren't just picking each other up at the airport, they're now consolidating their travel plans.
After the NFL announced last month that the rookie symposium had been cancelled for 2011, the NFLPA reinstituted it. The symposium starts today in Bradenton, Fla., and not only have Smith and Goodell opted to address the rookies, they shared a plane to (and expected to be from) Florida in order to continue negotiations.
In a show of good will, Smith reportedly asked Goodell to address the rookies this morning at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel introductory breakfast in Sarasota and Goodell agreed.
The discussions between Goodell and Smith Tuesday not only didn't include attorneys, it didn't include owners or players. For the first time since this process began, it was two guys both desperate to save face to the people they have to "answer to" and get a deal done.
In the legal circle of life, it would seem only fitting if the final touches on these meetings came in Minneapolis. For more than 25 years, Minneapolis has been Ground Zero of NFL employee matters. The birth certificate of NFL free agency is collecting dust in a file in Hennepin County. A $3 check written out to the USFL after it "won" its lawsuit against the NFL still gets laughs among lawyers who shake their heads at the rationale of 12 people good and true. Just about every time the NFL has faced a challenge to its position of authority, the result has come down in Minneapolis. It would seem fitting that this latest ugly chapter gets settled where so many others have – in the Twin Cities in the summertime.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.