The news was good on the labor front last Wednesday and Thursday when word got out that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the head of the former players union DeMaurice Smith met with a small group of representatives from each side for what turned out to be a mediation session with Judge Arthur Boylan.
Next came reports that the mediation that was originally scheduled to take place this week was being canceled because the two parties were entering into settlement talks that could ultimatley lead to a deal between the NFL and its players.
The NFL is considering season lengths for 2011 as short as eight regular-season games, half its normal number, as the league plans for the possibility of an abbreviated season because of the nearly three-month-long lockout, sources said.
The prospect of an 8 game season - in a word - sucks, but the NFL has to be prepared for every eventuality, including the need for a drastically reduced season.
No word has emerged yet on whether talks will resume (or have resumed) but Goodell, while declining to say if more talks were scheduled, told reporters last week:
I would just tell you that both sides are committed to continuing the dialogue. In negotiations, you're making different suggestions, recommendations and proposals from time to time. I think both sides will do that in a responsible fashion.
While its prudent for the NFL to be making worst-case-scenario plans, fans can only hope the league and its players are putting all their energies into finding common ground and reaching an agreement.
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