On Tuesday, a new sense of optimism invaded the NFL world, especially after CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported that labor negotiations were 80-85 percent complete and that it would be difficult for either side to screw up the progress (naturally, I followed up with a post about how the talks COULD be screwed up).
Today, though, there have been tweets here and there dispelling some of the enthusiasm that a new CBA could be forthcoming soon (an example from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: “As late, legendary George Young said: ‘There is no such thing as close. It’s either done or it isn’t.’”)
And now ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter is reporting that talks almost blew up Tuesday, and not surprisingly, the incident occurred after the lawyers were let back into the negotiations – ahem, that was No. 1 on my list of reasons that could derail the negotiations.
How close it did (come to blowing up) is a matter of opinion. But what is factual is that the moment came shortly after lawyers from both sides were brought back into the process. As tensions rose and anger grew, two sources said NFL Players Association 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 incident is an example of just how tenuous these talks can be and how quickly they can be derailed.
But it also is the ultimate proof that (DeMaurice) Smith and his players, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners have taken the process out of the hands of the attorneys and demanded that they control it as the two sides try to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement.
If Tuesday was an overly-optimistic day, then today’s news is a bit of a slap in the face. But the two sides are talking – and really, since nobody is talking on the record, it’s hard to know exactly what is going on – and that’s always a good sign.
Now, if they could just keep the lawyers out of the room.
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