Last week, after NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith conducted a conference call with players, we reported that Smith told the players “don’t believe the hype,” and that a labor deal isn’t close. Earlier today, we reported that the process remains far from over, in large part because the players believe the owners are taking advantage of the sense that a deal is inevitable in order to put the screws to the players on some of the various pending issues.
Sure, we’ve also been looking for signs of optimism in the reports from other news organizations. And there have been plenty of signs of optimism in the reports from other news organizations.
Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that Smith conducted on Tuesday night a secret (well, not-so-secret) conference to which 50 Pro Bowlers received a call-in number. Per Glazer, Smith told the players, as we reported he told players last week, that a deal is not close.
Curiously, Glazer’s report is being met with skepticism in some circles. Our buddy Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, who at one point earlier this month wrote that some folks involved in the talks believed a deal could come in a matter of days, opined that “D-Smith is trying to play us,” adding that Smith “knew details of call would leak, right?” Added Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, “I don’t buy it. He’s just acting like a tough guy.”
Also, Albert Breer of NFL Network wrote earlier tonight that the arrival of owners and players in Minnesota for talks on Thursday “seem[s] to be very encouraging news.” After Glazer’s report arose, Breer said he “[c]an’t believe the hysterics I’m seeing here on the CBA talks. Calm. Down. Folks. . . . [L]et’s settle down. Players, owners have ridden out bumps over last week.”
Smith’s concern seems to be that the owners have assumed that the players will take whatever the league’s last, best offer will be, because the players are antsy to get this thing done. And that’s causing some to think that Smith’s overriding objective at this point is to get the players — and the media — to believe that things aren’t close, even if they are.
The reality, as we’ll explain in a separate post, is that the parties aren’t close. As you might imagine, each side has a version as to why the two sides aren’t close. The players’ version is set forth above. Before I call it a night, I’ll share what I think is the owners’ version at this point.