No holiday resolution on the horizon

NFL labor talks are said to be back on track and more meetings are scheduled next week, but there will be no Fourth of July celebration.

Our Fourth of July holiday resolution prediction for the end of the NFL lockout isn't going to happen, but the story coming out of Minneapolis as both sides take a deserved breather for the holiday weekend is that the deal is a lot closer to getting done today than it was just 48 hours earlier.

FOXSports.com reported that a conference call with top players Thursday was pretty glum in terms of making significant progress. However, by the time the Thursday meetings let up, it was actually early Friday morning.

The two sides met for a few hours Friday before breaking for the Independence Day weekend holiday, with the next round of talks scheduled to return to New York City. However, the word out of Minnesota is that the major potential deal-breakers are much closer to being resolved than previously thought.

According to the league's website, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan played a critical role in keeping both sides on point. When the talks began to stall Thursday, Boylan is said to have shifted the focus on what was most important on the revenue sharing split to both sides. According to those with access to the big-time insiders, Boylan has been the cool head of reason that has kept both sides on point and not let the heated exchanges take their eyes off the prize.

Rumor has it that Boylan was so charged up about the progress Thursday that he suggested pulling an all-nighter and potentially get a deal done. Instead, the key figures needed their beauty sleep and the talks will resume next week.

According to the unofficial war room schedules, lawyers for both sides will meet Tuesday and Wednesday. The owners and players will re-start talks next Thursday and Friday. There is hope that Boylan will convince them to order in 3 a.m. pizzas and do a cram session to get this ugly incident over with, but, after talks seemed to be on thin ice as recently as Thursday, they are moving forward.

It seems ironic that, when good news is coming out of the NFL talks, the owners of the NBA are announcing a lockout of their own. As it currently stands, with so many NBA teams losing money (almost three of four teams are in a deficit situation), that could be a bitter dispute that causes the league to miss an entire season – it stands to reason that if the 70 percent of owners lose money when they play, in bizarre billionaire tax implications, actually NOT playing will improve their own personal bottom line. Massive reforms are needed in the NBA.

That isn't the case in the NFL. It's an embarrassment of riches in which everyone is trying to stuff as many Nathan's dogs in their mouth as possible before the clock hits :00.

Unfortunately for my inaccurate, but believable (and marketable) scenario, we aren't going to have football fans clinking adult beverage glasses together on the Fourth of July celebrating the resolution of the NFL lockout and firming up fantasy draft plans. It's getting close, but it isn't there yet. Until DeMaurice Smith puts pen to paper, there are many old-school NFL labor historians that fear Mr. Smith, whether he's in Washington, New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, the Jersey Shore or taking his talents to South Beach. It ain't over 'til it's over, but it's looking better all the time.


SATURDAY NOTES

  • In an interview with ESPN1500 in Minneapolis, kicker Ryan Longwell said he's tired of answering questions about Brett Favre. Seconds later, he was asked a question about Favre, saying, "I've talked to Brett a lot this offseason, once or twice a week, and he's as happy as can be (to be) retired. He's really happy down there (in Mississippi), really enjoying retirement and the biggest thing is that he's totally at peace with it, which is a huge piece of the puzzle as he leaves this game he's played since Pop Warner basically."

  • Longwell, who is a free agent once the lockout ends, said he would like to come back to the Vikings and why not? While the team was down last year, you couldn't blame that on Longwell, who made 17 of 18 field goal attempts and all 31 extra points. Over the last two years, Longwell has made 43 of 46 field goal attempts (93.4 percent) and has been as automatic as any kicker in the league. The Vikings should want him back just as much or more.

  • One byproduct subject of the current labor talks includes the ability (or lack of it) by teams to have at least one or two "right of first refusal" matching options for free agent players that, under the 2010 system, would have been restricted rather than unrestricted free agents.


    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.



  • Viking Update Top Stories

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  • In an interview with ESPN1500 in Minneapolis, kicker Ryan Longwell said he's tired of answering questions about Brett Favre. Seconds later, he was asked a question about Favre, saying, \"I've talked to Brett a lot this offseason, once or twice a week, and he's as happy as can be (to be) retired. He's really happy down there (in Mississippi), really enjoying retirement and the biggest thing is that he's totally at peace with it, which is a huge piece of the puzzle as he leaves this game he's played since Pop Warner basically.\"
  • Longwell, who is a free agent once the lockout ends, said he would like to come back to the Vikings and why not? While the team was down last year, you couldn't blame that on Longwell, who made 17 of 18 field goal attempts and all 31 extra points. Over the last two years, Longwell has made 43 of 46 field goal attempts (93.4 percent) and has been as automatic as any kicker in the league. The Vikings should want him back just as much or more.
  • One byproduct subject of the current labor talks includes the ability (or lack of it) by teams to have at least one or two \"right of first refusal\" matching options for free agent players that, under the 2010 system, would have been restricted rather than unrestricted free agents.
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