To the untrained eye affixed to a head featuring a mouth inclined to bitch simply for the sake of bitching, today’s simple statement from the NFL and the NFLPA* that talks are continuing could cause plenty of frustration. To the folks who get it, the 21-word joint quote represents the cherry atop the whipped cream that decorates the hot-fudge-and-justified-optimism sundae that the owners and players have served to the football-following world.
The two sides are talking. The lawyers have been left out of the process. No one is running to the media to bicker or snipe. And, as Albert Breer (not Brooks, Rosey, Breer) of NFL Network reports, both sides realize that the time to do a deal has arrived.
That said, getting there will take some time. An NFL source told Breer that four-to-six weeks will be needed to progress from “serious negotiations” to the drafting of a formal document. An NFLPA* source said that there’s a 30-day window to get a deal done.
Breer pegs the date for a deal to be reached and a “normal” preseason to occur at July 15.
Also, Breer mentions something we’ve previously heard regarding the initiation of the current talks. Even though it has been reported that the mediator, Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, requested the negotiations, the talks actually commenced at the behest of the NFL, which has been pushing the “kick out the lawyers and let’s make a deal” concept for months. And despite an ill-advised remark from NFL appeals counsel Paul Clement on the courthouse steps following Friday’s hearing before the Eighth Circuit, a league source has vowed to Breer that the owners won’t contend that the negotiations constitute collective bargaining.
“Both sides feel the pressure now,” another league source told Breer. “There’s risk on both sides legally here. Neither side is completely comfortable with its legal position. So it’s imperative to work now before one side or the other potentially gets the upper hand.”
Amen. And we saw that not because that’s exactly how we’ve analyzed the situation, but because it’s exactly the right approach. (OK, and because that’s exactly how we analyzed the situation.)
Of course, there’s still a long way to go. But these issues are going to be resolved eventually. Evidence of a clear commitment to resolve them sooner rather than later is the best birthday gift I could have gotten.
As to the issues, we’d be remiss not to plug the opening segment of today’s PFT Live, in which the main sticking points were summarized.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!