Representatives for the NFL owners and players continue to try to work out their differences in the collective bargaining talks. Negotiations went for 12 hours on Thursday with more talks scheduled for at least Friday, maybe into the weekend.
Whether it was a positive occurrence or a sign that the two sides may be hitting a wall, league and players association representatives met for 12 hours Thursday. In the end, not only wasn't an agreement reached, NFPLA director DeMaurice Smith said there is still a lot of work to do.
Coming on the heels of a marathon session Wednesday between lawyers for both sides going over the language of proposed changes to the next CBA, the significant players in getting a deal done – Smith, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a handful of owners and a handful of player representatives – met for an even longer period of time. However, without a resolution being upon and a cone of silence being dropped over the proceedings, it's hard to get a handle on how close or how far away an agreement is from happening.
Rumors have surfaced that, even if things progress ideally from this point, a deal won't get done until next week – July 15 has been pointed at as the drop-dead date for the preseason to be played as scheduled and, in the case of the Vikings, July 18 is the deadline for training camp taking place in Mankato. Reports have claimed the two sides have yet to discuss a rookie wage scale and there are said to be potential deal-breakers still in play, including differences on how free agency will be handled, how to handle the Brady et al v. National Football League
antitrust lawsuit or how the players association will be reformed following an agreement.
That being said, there is also a feeling that the talks between owners and players may continue into the weekend, something that hasn't happened in previous negotiations. That alone should be viewed as a positive sign, if progress is being made.
The two sides are scheduled to re-convene their meetings at 9 a.m. Eastern in New York. As important as Thursday was for the two sides, today's meetings will set the tone and, if they fail to produce an agreement, the lockout may end up being decided in the courts and not through mediation.
If Brett Favre had anything to do with the Gil Brandt story on NFL.com, that he is once again considering a comeback, is up to speculation, but the speculation machine is back to work. Not only has there been buzz that Favre might go to Carolina to mentor top draft pick Cam Newton, but there has been talk in Philadelphia that, once the team (as expected) trades Kevin Kolb, Favre might be brought in to QB the Eagles to back up Michael Vick. You can bet more rumors of a similar nature will take place, because, as Vikings fans have learned, Favre rumors always gain steam at this time of year, so why should 2011 be any different?
One potential veteran quarterback that the Vikings might have considered as a short-term insurance policy for Christian Ponder took himself out of consideration. Unrestricted free agent Kerry Collins, who spent the last several years alternating the starting quarterback job with Vince Young for the Tennessee Titans, announced Thursday that he is retiring. Collins was the first overall pick of the Carolina Panthers in their expansion season.
One minor issue that has surfaced and points to the complexity of the discussions in the new CBA is that owners want offensive linemen to be split in three categories in terms of applying the franchise tag. Under the last CBA, offensive linemen were all lumped together as one group, despite several top veteran left tackles being paid almost twice as much on average as Pro Bowl veteran guards or centers. Steve Hutchinson is almost a lock to be a Hall of Famer, but left Seattle because the Seahawks couldn't match the Vikings' offer sheet that would have guaranteed Hutchinson would make the same money as left tackle Walter Jones.
From the "You Can't Make This Up" Department, Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams got a $76,000 engagement ring back from his former girlfriend Brooke Daniels, a former Miss Texas USA pageant contestant. Williams filed a lawsuit against Daniels asking for the ring back. At first, Daniels said Williams expressly said she didn't have to give the ring back even though she turned down the proposal. Court documents state that Williams didn't get down on one knee to propose to Daniels, he mailed the ring to her. With such romantic intentions, it shouldn't come as a surprise that she said "no." With the hearing pending, Williams got his ring back. Ah, young love.
Preregistrations ends at midnight Friday for the 2011Minnesota Vikings Ride for Life Motorcycle Rally that will be held July 16. The 17th annual Ride for Life, a 50-mile motorcycle trek, benefits the Vikings Children's Fund, which has raised over $5 million for the University of Minnesota's Department of Pediatrics. Vikings alumni – including Chuck Foreman, Matt Blair, Ted Brown, Bob Lurtsema, Everett Lindsay, Joey Browner and Stu Voigt – cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking will be on hand throughout the day. Preregistration is available online at www.vikings.com. The cost to participate is a $15 donation to the Vikings Children's Fund. Over $20,000 in prizes, including $5,000 in cash, will be awarded.
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.