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NFL Lockout: NFLPA and Owners Secretly Meet, Did Progress Ensue?

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NFL lockout news is buzzing with the latest development. In an unprecedented move in these 2011 CBA negotiations the two sides decided to actually negotiate! It is a novel idea. Well, we were left to assume they are negotiating since the involved parties did this all in secrecy. In fact, they met so secretly that even members of their own group did not know this meeting was going to happen.

They did just issue this joint statement that I quote from ESPN:

The parties met pursuant to court mediation. Owners and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions.

So, you have to believe those "confidential discussions" revolve around the CBA, right? This assumption is given credence by the fact that federal mediator U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who was at these secret meetings, has cancelled next week's scheduled mediation.

And if that is the case then we can only take it as a good sign. The owners were reportedly represented by Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Jerry Richardson, John Mara, Art Rooney and commissioner Roger Goodell.

On the player side of things, according to ESPN, along with DeMaurice Smith,  Kevin Mawae, the Kansas City Chiefs' Mike Vrabel, the Indianapolis Colts' Jeff Saturday, the New York Jets' Tony Richardson and the Baltimore Ravens' Domonique Foxworth were all there.

And what may be the greatest sign and indication of progress of all is, other than De Smith, there were no lawyers present.

The two sides met in Chicago, which makes sense given the appeal of Judge Nelson's ruling is set to begin on Friday in St. Louis.

According to a source of John Clayton's, in the above linked article, the meeting was called by the owners. Clayton also reported that a source told him:

any potential deal still was a ways away; however, the hope would be that the two sides could reach an agreement sooner rather than later, potentially even later this month.

It's interesting that the owners called this meeting now. By all accounts the two sides were at an impasse as the courts sifted through the NFLPA's attempt to lift the lockout. This was the key decision that would sway the pendulum of negotiating power. With it seeming like an almost certainty that the 8th circuit court will side with the owners my guess is the owners are just trying to jump start negotiations under the premise that the lockout will remain until they reach a deal.