What a difference a day makes. When I did my weekly radio show last night, I relayed the news that the NFL was holding meetings locally with player representatives. Although the details of said meetings were surprisingly secret save for the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) locale, the general consensus was that the newest rounds of negotiations indicated that the sides were heeding the warnings of the appellate court.
Papers such as The Washington Post even reported unnamed sources as saying the framework was being laid to have an agreement within two to three weeks. Earlier in the month, the courts advised the sides that neither would be happy with their ruling, if it came to that, leading most to believe it was a threat to the core fabric of how the NFL is currently structured. All the scribes, most of whom are spouting opinions based on opinions, spoke of the renewed talks with the rolling deadlines necessary for the teams to not lose training camp time, or more importantly, preseason revenue. Today reports have surfaced that everything isn't as positive as had been projected.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that talks almost broke down yesterday when, (surprise) the lawyers rejoined the conversation.
One person close to the talks even went so far as to say, "This almost blew up yesterday."
How close it did is a matter of opinion. Fact is, the moment came shortly after lawyers from both sides were brought back into the process at an undisclosed location in the Washington, D.C., area. As tensions rose and anger grew, two sources said NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith instructed his lawyers to "stand down."
With the lawyers removed from the direct negotiations, the process was said to get back on track and to a good spot. The scenario is an example of just how tenuous these talks can be and how quickly they can be derailed.
Now, in any negotiation, there are going to be key items that one side or the other (or both) do not want to budge on. If there wasn't any reason to be contentious then the conversation would only last as long as needed to write down all the agreed upon points. It is significant, in my opinion, if it's true that the lawyers initiated the 'return to your bunker' mentalities. I'm not prejudice towards lawyers, but facts are facts. The longer this drags out the more money the lawyers make.
I know everyone is sick of talking lockout and wants to instead lock in on prized free agent targets, but there are still a lot of steps necessary to get there first. From Schefter's piece:
Multiple sources familiar with the talks said progress is being made, but they cautioned that there's "a lot of drama and a lot of room for mistakes left."
To say this is going to be done in two weeks, one source said, "is borderline insane." The sides are meeting again Wednesday in Maryland, in larger groups, and more meetings are expected next week.