Negotiations and talks working toward a new CBA in principle continued at length Thursday and resume Friday. Does that mean a deal is on the holiday horizon? Friday could be an important day in the labor impasse.
If there has been a day of pressure in the NFL lockout, it may have been Thursday. Top representatives of the players and owners met until after midnight Thursday and, given the holiday weekend approaching, the fact they're getting back together at 8 a.m. this morning can be viewed one of two ways – a deal is close and the final details are being worked on or so much work is needed that extra time is required.
For the last couple weeks, as word of "secret meetings" between the NFL and the players association heated up, it all made sense for those who like symbolism. Football is truly America's pastime – at least for this millennium – and a July 4 settlement paving the way for an opening weekend on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedies would allow the NFL to get past the lockout doldrums and wrap itself in the flag – something baseball has perfected in its own times of internal strife.
According to reports, all the key players for both sides were in attendance for what was said to be as much as 14 hours of face-to-face talks that will continue today. One of two things will happen.
In the symbolic scenario, a deal in principal will be struck and announced officially on Monday. The other scenario is that, after marathon talks, the two sides remain too far apart to find a resolution. If that happens, it could be a long time until we see football.
The length of Thursday's talks point to a solution or a breakdown taking place. Either a framework of a new collective bargaining agreement will be tentatively agreed on or the knot that has been stretched so tight since March will snap and the all the progress that has been made will be halted.
There have been a lot of important days in the standoff lasting more than 100 days between the owners and players. Today may be the most important.
On the same day that the NFL lockout could either be resolved or shattered, the State of Minnesota officially shut down. At midnight, a couple hours after talks broke down to get a budget deal done – or a short-term fix to keep the state operational – the state started its holiday weekend a little early, with about 36,000 people not required to be back on Tuesday. According to insiders, the Vikings are planning to lay low during the period of the shutdown and hope to get their case heard whenever the special session to end the shutdown is called.
Sidney Rice told Sports Illustrated that he can easily see himself staying a Viking, but the odds of a hometown discount may not be in the cards, saying that remaining a Viking "is a huge possibility, but I'm still going to test the market and see what else is out there. There are a lot of teams interested." If he stays, it will be at market value.
In the same interview, Rice said he has been working out with Vikings defensive backs Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson.
Rice also weighed in on the stadium debate. When asked if he could transport any stadium to Minnesota to play in, he said, "it would be the (stadium) they're talking about building (in Arden Hills). It looks like a real nice stadium. It's got the retractable roof and new turf. Hopefully, they'll get that approved and done.
Trent Dilfer has become the Sean Salisbury of ESPN – the angry guy who throws out theories that may or may not hold any water. Dilfer has taken on the role of angry pedestrian quarterback-turned-commentator who is more than willing to throw far more talented players than he under the bus. He's at it again. While the name of Matt Hasselbeck has been linked to the Vikings, Dilfer is promoting the notion that Tarvaris Jackson may be heading to Seattle, regardless of the Hasselbeck's plans. His rationale is based on Darrell Bevell being the offensive coordinator. Had Bevell developed T-Jack to anything beyond pedestrian status, not only wouldn't Christian Ponder be wearing his No. 7, Favre likely wouldn't have been a Viking if Jackson had grabbed his opportunity by the horns and taken it down.
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.