It's hard to come by good, tangible information on the status of NFL lockout negotiations. That's as it should be. I do not miss the days when both sides spent all their time trying to convince the public that they were the noble, wronged party just fighting for financial justice.
But I'm still more than a little curious, and if someone has information to share, I'll take it. Don Banks of SI.com squeezed this quote out of one NFL GM Wednesday.
"It does feel like we're at the five-yard line, and we're right there. But it's like Jerome Bettis has the ball, and I've seen him fumble on the 1-yard line before. If there's a fumble now, hopefully either Goodell or Smith plays Ben Roethlisberger and stops the whole thing from falling apart.''
The 5-yard line, you say? That sounds pretty promising. I'll play along with your metaphor, too (and if you don't recall, here's the play referenced from the '06 AFC divisional playoffs). If you think Jerome Bettis might fumble, do not give Jerome Bettis the ball. Also, please do not put Jay Cutler in the game or send in Graham Gano to kick a field goal.
You do what got you to the 5 in the first place, and good news, again from Don Banks, it sounds like that's what they're going to do.
The key negotiation sessions scheduled for Thursday and Friday are expected to include only NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and five owners, as well as NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and five players. That's a very positive sign, because it's the six-on-six, face-to-face formula that has resulted in most of the progress that has been made in these talks ...
Good. Keep doing that. Don't think about the fact that you're in the red zone; think about the fact that you have a process that's proven able to move the ball, and just go out there and execute. And if you're wondering who's playing defense in this metaphor ...
... some within league circles believe NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler would rather litigate this fight than negotiate it, and that his goal is to delay any potential agreement until the 8th District Court rules on the NFL's right to indefinitely lock out its players.
In a related story, I now hate Jeffrey Kessler. If he's Rex Ryan, I'm Bill Belichick. If he's Cortland Finnegan, I'm Andre Johnson. If he's an Oakland Raiders fan, I am a shower.
I just can't believe, in this (hopefully) late stage of the game, that one dude's desire to litigate could derail the progress made by dozens of others. If this guy's hell-bent on stopping progress, then someone should lock him in the trunk of a car for a couple of weeks. I kid -- that's a little extreme -- but if anyone wanted to chip in and help me out with Lawrence Taylor's old "send prostitutes to his room to distract him" trick, let me know.
Negotiations continue Thursday. Good luck, gentlemen. Do the right thing.