NFL Lockout: Is The Ice Melting A Bit?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL players' lawyers Jeffrey Kessler (L), Barbara P. Berens and James Quinn walk with former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith after leaving court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

After the 8th circuit issued a stay on Judge Nelson's ruling and more or less signaling that they will rule in favor of the owners, the sentiment was that the players should really get back to the table to try and get a deal done. The owners have stuck to that line all along (whether they believe it or not), but the players have been a bit more combative. That's understandable give that they aren't the ones who opted out... But, we are where we are and eventually the rhetoric has to be dialed down if a deal is going to get done.

While DeMaurice Smith might still be angry, the players seem to be cooling down a bit. Two player representatives spoke yesterday and while nothing they said was groundbreaking, they at least weren't attacking the other side and seemed to open to negotiation.

Scott Fujita of the Browns says that time is of the essence and we're getting to the point where the season is being negatively affected. "I know that the longer that this goes on this is going to get worse and worse," Fujita said.

Eric Winston of the Texans wasn't talking about lawsuits either. Again, he doesn't say anything earth shattering here, but the talk is about "beating" the other side. That's progress.

"There has to be real compromise, there has to be some real understanding on both sides," Winston said. "If we can get both sides and we can mutually agree to a deal and we all feel it is fair, I think it should be a long deal. This isn’t good for football. Period.  It’s not good for the players, it’s not good for the owners, and it’s not good for anybody."

The next session of mediation scheduled for after the June 3rd appeals date before the 8th circuit. If the owners win that case, as is expected, it would not at all be surprising to see a deal get done during those mediations. Sal Pal reported yesterday that Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and the federal magistrate in charge of the mediation all went out for lunch. That's got to be seen as a positive sign.

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