NFL labor talks spur optimism for new deal
The confidential negotiating sessions held between the NFL owners and players the last couple of weeks have apparently borne some fruit in the form of guarded optimism.
At least five reports came out over the weekend that a framework for a new collective bargaining agreement could come about in the next couple of weeks to a month. That doesn’t mean an immediate return to football. But it would mean an “Open for Business” sign could be hung a couple of weeks thereafter, in just enough time to conduct a full training camp, preseason, and regular season.
The talks remain fragile and can collapse at any minute. But with the sides scheduled to continue their negotiations this week, things were looking up for the first time since the lockout began March 11.
So bright were things, according to the Post, that commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith shared what the paper characterized as a “jovial” private dinner last Wednesday. That’s significant when one considers the years of labor peace with former commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the late NFLPA boss Gene Upshaw were marked by a close, personal friendship. Goodell and Smith may never be buddy-buddy, but any thawing of the previous animosity between them is considered a
SI.com’s Peter King actually targeted July 10 as the date for a new labor deal, given the tenor of the current talks and the approximate $700 million the league could lose by an abridged preseason. The owners have apparently moved a lot on the players’ share of their $9 billion enterprise, now offering them a previously denied split of projected, skyrocketing revenues between 2011 through 2014.
“It’d be a mistake to think [a new CBA] is certainly going to happen,” a source told King. “There’s a long way to go. But instead of people yelling at each other ... [they’re] sitting down and talking to each other. That’s progress.”