It has been reported by every sports writer and their brother today that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and a handful of team owners, met "secretly" with NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith and a few players. At first, many thought that this could be a sign that the two sides were discussing a possible deal to lift the lockout one day before the owner's appeal is to be heard on Friday.
However, it now seems that the meetings, which also took place on Wednesday was actually court ordered mediation. The NFL and NFLPA released the following joint statement:
"The parties met pursuant to court mediation. Owner and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions."
While there was a short burst of optimism that the NFL Lockout could be lifted before the owners and players battle it out in round two (or three... I'm losing track) in the court room, it's clear now that the two sides are no closer than they were months ago.
Oh well, back to square one...... Or is it?
According to Sports Business Journal NFL writer Daniel Kaplan, the federal court in Minnesota has canceled the NFL and NFLPA's scheduled mediation that was supposed to take place and scheduled confidential settlement talks.
The minnesota federal court has cancelled mediation set next week saying it is engaged in confidential settlement talks with the parties
That is big news. While both sides are sitting in a stalemate, with the NFL using the anti-trust suit against the NFL and their TV contracts as their broadsword and the NFL using the lockout as their battle axe, Judge Boylan is attempting to force the two sides to reach an agreement.
Could we be looking at the end of the lockout? NFL.com writer Albert Breer reminds us via Twitter that the last time issues this serious existed, 1993, the two sides came to an agreement in a "Settlement."
... In 1993, the last time issues this serious existed, the NFL and players reached a "settlement". Terms of the next CBA were in it.
I'll be crossing my fingers...