Two, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the Brady v. NFL anti-trust case. This is the case the players won overwhelmingly in federal court presided over by Judge Susan Nelson, and is now in appeal. All eyeballs are on this case because should the players win again, the lockout is finished and the owners lose la leverage when it comes to bargaining for a favorable agreement. If the owners win, the lockout continues, and football slowly is strangled to death.
However, prior to these arguments taking place, and just one week after the owners got together to chit-chat in Indianapolis, it's being reported that there was a 'secret' meeting between a small group of owners and NFLPA* leader De Smith.
Initial reports of the clandestine Chicago-area meeting involving multiple owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell omitted reference to one key attendee.
Per multiple reports (including one from Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN and one from Albert Breer of NFL Network), NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith was present, too. Other NFLPA* officials also were there.
Per Schefter and Mortensen, the two sides met into the evening in an effort to bridge some of their various and sharp differences. The meeting was so secretive that some owners didn’t even know it was happening.
Though a potential agreement continues to be a long way away, there’s some hope that the foundation could be in place for a deal to be reached later this month.
No word yet on whether Jim Irsay was present at this meeting, though I doubt he was there. Irsay is not part of the negotiations group, which consists of Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson, just to name a few. That other owners did not know this was happening, and that absent from the discussion was the nauseating Jeff Pash, is making many perk up and think this is the first real sign of a potential agreement.
Also present at this meeting was Jeff Saturday, Colts center and NFLPA* rep.
PFT offers the best analysis of the 'secret, lawyer-less meeting' news:
The fact that six owners participated when a rotation of four have been attending court-ordered mediation sessions is a positive sign, but the absence of men like Jeff Pash, Bob Batterman, Jim Quinn, and Jeff Kessler represents the best news. It means that the two sides are moving toward trying to find a win-win solution, with the lawyers left to iron out the details after a consensus is reached on the bigger issues.
Hopefully, this is a sign of good news.