Actual progress made in resolving the NFL lockout? Maybe

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (second from left), NFL retired players' lawyer Michael Hausfeld and NFL players' lawyer Jeffrey Kessler 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)

With oral arguments starting tomorrow in the lockout appeal, the point men for NFL ownership and DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director, met secretly in Chicago yesterday. At the heart of their discussion, the CBA battle and the NFL lockout. There are many details left to be filled in about the discussion, but there is at least some cause for hope according to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen from ESPN.

It looks as though owners and players are trying a little harder now to ascertain whether or not they can work out a deal. Of course, that's still a mighty optimistic thought. But seeing a handful of dedicated reps from both sides of the issue making an effort to meet privately, with no opportunity for posturing in front of the media, is a good sign. From the ESPN report:

One source said any potential deal still was a ways away, however, the hope would be that the two sides could get something done sooner rather than later, potentially even later this month.

Like I said, there are still some holes to be filled in as to the details of this meeting. Was D Smith the only NFLPA rep on hand? Were there lawyers there, like NFL counsel Jeff Pash? Did talk have implications for mediation that's scheduled to take place next week? 

Jason LaCanfora reports that Giants owner John Mara and Steelers owner Dan Rooney were at the meeting as well. All five of those owners have been heavily involved in the labor talks thus far. 

UPDATE: There were also some players on hand for the pow wow: NFLPA president Kevin Mawae and Executive Committee members Jeff Saturday and Mike Vrabel. 

UPDATE: It has also been confirmed that Federal Magistrate Arthur Boylan, the court appointed mediator, was on hand in Chicago yesterday. That's a positive sign. Those meetings are also still going on, and are scheduled to wrap up today. 

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