A Critical Week For NFL Labor Negotiations

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL lawyer Jeff Pash (L), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Art Rooney II (R), president of the Pittsburgh Steelers arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Now that Independence Day has come and gone, the focus of the football world returns to the ongoing NFL lockout and labor negotiations between owners and players. With training camps set to open in just a few short weeks, the urgency of these talks will be increasing greatly from this point forward.

Where did the two sides leave off last week, you ask? (OK, you probably didn't ask. Bear with us as we tell you anyway.) ESPN's John Clayton has sources telling him that the two sides are moving closer on the all-important revenue split, with the owners now offering players 46 percent of total revenues (after reneging on a reported offer of 48 percent two weeks ago).

Meanwhile, after negativity set in as negotiations broke down last week, Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan stepped into the negotiation process and not only restored order - rebounding the talks back toward its original state at the height of this fiasco's optimism - but began preaching urgency in the negotiation room. The common thought is that the more involved Judge Boylan remains, the more success the two sides will have at the table.

Strap in. This is a big week, and the mood at the end of it may be our clearest signal yet as to whether or not football will start on time.

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