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.
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.