June 15, 2011 in Sports

Signs point to possible progress in NFL labor talks

Sam Farmer Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – The drumbeat of an NFL labor resolution grew louder Tuesday with rumblings of a deal, or at least the framework of one, that could be reached within the next month. An agreement would avert the possibility of games being canceled for the first time since 1987.

The league and players continued talks before a mediator Tuesday at an undisclosed location in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., and signs are that the sides have gotten past the rhetoric and are gaining traction on real progress.

Lending credence to that belief is that lawyers from both sides have been reintroduced to the talks, an indication that specifics of a deal are being constructed.

According to an individual familiar with the negotiations, many owners are feeling more encouraged that a deal is within reach than they have been at any other time.

The threat of losing at least one preseason game is a strong incentive, the individual said, adding: “Once you start losing those, you start getting real revenue loss. And once you get that, there’s less money to put on the table.”

Still, the lockout remains in place while the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals continues to deliberate on the NFL’s June 2 appeal of a district court ruling ordering that the lockout be lifted.

Talks are expected to continue today. NFL owners are scheduled to convene in Chicago next Tuesday to be updated on the finer points of the negotiations.

Although the original plan called for a one-day meeting, the league has advised owners to pack for an overnight stay. Any deal requires a three-quarters-majority vote of ownership to be made official.

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