Albert Breer at NFL.com is spearheading the optimism with this column. Here are some snippets that might put a little pep into your step today.
According to sources on each side of the talks, the NFL and players have come to an understanding that the time to bargain seriously is now. And as much as the ongoing litigation has set the calendar thus far, the calendar itself -- and the looming mid-summer start of training camps -- is starting to overtake the litigation as a motivator to move the talks along.
Additionally, a league source pointed out on Tuesday that Commissioner Roger Goodell said last Friday that "both sides are committed," whereas in the past, he's only said that the parties need to be committed to reaching an agreement.
"Both sides feel the pressure now," said another league source. "There's risk on both sides legally here. Neither side is completely comfortable with its legal position. So it's imperative to work now before one side or the other potentially gets the upper hand."
Breer also points out that if the preseason is skipped, it costs the league about $1 billion. I can't believe that something so worthless is actually so valuable, but there it is. A billion dollars would seem to be a good motivator to negotiate seriously.
Of course, there are reasons to be cautious with your optimism. The two sides have been so far apart that if they're just now starting "serious" talks, it could still be months before anything is ironed out. And just because it makes sense for both sides to negotiate, it doesn't necessarily mean that's what they're going to do. Looking back over everything that's gotten us to where we are, it's hard to see where common sense and rationality have ever been motivating factors for anyone involved.
Still, it's better than nothing. As worthless as the preseason has always been, if they announced soon that it would happen as normal, I'd embrace it like a long-lost teddy bear.
- Robert Kraft