Ever since Thursday night, when I decided to spend an unplanned evening well away from my laptop for the first time in roughly four years, optimism on the NFL labor front has reached a boiling point. I tried the tactic again yesterday (Saturday) in the hope that it'd spur a labor deal, but alas, this is one superstition that died a very quick death.
But that optimism remains. Remaining issues between NFL owners and players are small, and no longer considered deal-breakers. The two sides will spend Monday and perhaps Tuesday in mediation with Judge Arthur Boylan (returning from vacation) to work out those lingering problems. If all goes according to plan - and again, nearly every report out there believes it will - a new 10-year labor agreement for the NFL will be put to a vote by NFL owners on Thursday, July 21. Ratification from the owners (as well and players and the court) would result in the lifting of the lockout and the advent of 2011 free agency on July 25.
As such, we're officially done with off-season mode here at Buffalo Rumblings. Starting this very afternoon, it's all training camp, all the time - at least until everything in the above two paragraphs becomes official. Let's get started, Bills fans.