Maybe the owners and the NFLPA aren't the world's worst people


In the grand view of the world and all its troubles, it's still hard to look at the NFL labor dispute and say of anyone involved, "Yes, this person is doing a wonderful thing and deserves our admiration."

No matter the eventual outcome, this will still be two groups of people fighting over an insane amount of money, despite the fact that many of the people involved already have more of it than many of us will ever see. So unless some magnanimous owner has a Jerry Maguire meltdown and issues a mission statement that convinces everyone that money isn't as important as togetherness and earning the public's trust, no one here will be getting the hero treatment.

Still, I think a very small, very tentative, very reserved acknowledgement of goodness has been earned. Just a few weeks ago, things seemed bleaker, more contentious, and less hopeful than they do now.

Why? Because both sides have done the right thing, which was to stop slapfighting in public and lock themselves in a room and actually try. That's the exact thing I once asked for, and miraculously, it has happened.

It seems to have worked, too. They wouldn't have called for a 24-hour extension to the CBA if there wasn't some hope that they could accomplish something. A few weeks ago, did you think there was even a chance that this thing might be worked out in March? It looks like that chance is real now.

I know there's a long way to go, and I know that good news isn't necessarily imminent. It's still possible, perhaps even likely that things go belly-up and we end up losing actual football games, in which case I will go back to despising everyone involved.

But we're better off now than we once were, and that's because both sides eventually found the maturity and good sense to end the public sword-measuring contest in favor of actually working to accomplish something.

I think the federal mediator's request that both sides stop talking to the public was a big factor in that. Even though he didn't have the power to actually make anyone do anything, that he convinced both sides that it was a good idea to stop talking to the press was necessary. It seems like the less we've known about these negotiations, the more has actually gotten done. I'll make that trade any time.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Good job, owners and players. I mean that in a very relative, not-as-flattering-as-it-seems, none-of-you-are-getting-a-Nobel-peace-prize kind of a way, but still, it's something.

No one involved is as loathsome now as they seemed a few weeks ago. Congratulations to them for that, and I thank them for at least trying.

I reserve the right to take any of this back, depending on what happens over the next few hours.