NFL Secret Meeting a Smoke Signal or Smokescreen?

Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers were two of the owners involved in a secret meeting between representatives of the NFL and Players Association in Chicago yesterday. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)

Various sources reported that secret talks were held by members of the NFL owners and the NFL players representation on Wednesday. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, the New England Patriots' Robert Kraft, the New York Giants' John Mara and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Art Rooney were the owners present along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  DeMaurice Smith, Kevin Mawae, the Kansas City Chiefs' Mike Vrabel and the Indianapolis Colts' Jeff Saturday were also in attendance representing the players. The only lawyer present was Smith.

The meeting was held in Chicago to try to bridge some of their significant differences, according to multiple league sources. The two sides worked into the night, though it is unknown how long the NFL and NFLPA actually spent in talks.

With Day 80 of the Lockout nearing and a day before the next scheduled court date, it is possible that the two sides have come to the realization that this impasse must end. Friday's hearing in St. Louis in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, will preside over an appeal determining whether or not the lockout will be lifted. The final judgment is not expected until at least late June. Regardless of that, Mediation between the two sides should resume on June 7th.

Football fans are enduring the longest work stoppage in NFL history.

So are the two sides determined to work out a settlement that eventually leads to a new CBA? 

Or is it all a smokescreen. 

UPDATE 2:00 pm MT

The U.S. District court in Minnesota has canceled mediation sessions scheduled for next week to begin "confidential settlement talks" with the NFL and the NFLPA. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan is pushing for a settlement now, taking advantage of the uncertainty and lack of leverage on both sides before the Eighth Circuit issues a ruling on the lockout. The players have been pushing for serious talks with the "power-broker" owners as opposes to attorneys, and this is a step in the right direction. As NFL Network's Albert Breer points out, terms of the next CBA were included in the settlement reached back in 1993.






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