NFL Lockout: Optimism Over Talks Reaches Fever Pitch

By now, you've likely heard all about the significant progress made Thursday in NFL labor negotiations between league owners and players. With the rookie wage scale issue resolved, most in the industry believe that the remaining issues will be ironed out relatively quickly, achieving the goal of starting the 2011 season with enough time to not miss a single game.

Here's the thing, though: this isn't over until it's over, and there are still a myriad of issues to resolve that, now that they're not overshadowed by bigger-picture issues since put to bed, are in the limelight. Those include benefits for retired players, the owners' insistence for a right of first refusal for select free agents, judicial oversight of the new deal, player safety, and a new method of player discipline (which Roger Goodell has essentially been solely responsible for over the past five years).

Then there's the fact that once a new deal is agreed to, it must be approved by league owners and players, as well as federal courts. Pending lawsuits, most prominently the antitrust suit against the league, will need to be settled. Only then will the cacophony of the mad, post-lockout scramble be heard. Until then, optimism is great, but we're still awaiting the final product - and it may not be as imminent as most assume.

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