There's been more than ample reason to wax optimistically about the NFL's labor situation over the past few weeks, with Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith playing friendly for the NFLPA's Rookie Symposium the chief reason.
But Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on Wednesday night that such optimism is misguided, and that Smith called a large group of players to throw cold water on any hopes they had for a CBA deal this week.
Glazer reports that "50 Pro Bowlers were given call-in information but the number who participated is unknown," although he does point out that player reps Ray Lewis of the Ravens and Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars were on the line.
"How optimistic are you that a deal will get done soon?" Lewis asked, according to Glazer.
Smith then told Lewis, according to Glazer, that "there is reason for hope."
However, Smith reportedly told Jones-Drew and others that there are serious gaps to bridge, specifically the sharing of revenue with retired players and the number of years needed to become a free agent.
"At one point, we were asked if we could sell six years of free agency to our locker rooms and we all said there’s no way," one player on the call told Glazer. "We heard about that and the [issue of] retired players — and that is even before we start talking about splitting the revenue."
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Another player told Glazer that now he feels "a little more informed" than he'd felt from simply watching "the news for updates."
It's a bit disturbing to hear the disconnect from reports of what's being done publicly compared to what Glazer heard from these players.
But it's also important to remember that just because Smith told the players a deal isn't done doesn't mean a deal can't be done. In fact, the theory that something could be wrapped up by this weekend is nice, but probably too optimistic.
No one ever thought figuring out the revenue split, the rookie wage scale, the free agency issue and retired-player benefits would be easy. And it won't be.
But with enough time to get a deal done and still have a "normal season" -- more than two weeks, if you want to play the "soft deadline" game and target July 15 -- and with Goodell and Smith spending plenty of "quality time" together, it's perfectly acceptable to maintain the "cautiously optimistic" status quo for now.
Just remember the cautious part.
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