NFL Lockout: Are owners and players making real concessions in settlement talks?

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 3: Adam Goldberg of the St. Louis Rams addresses the media outside the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Federal Courthouse after the NFL lockout hearing on June 3, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. NFL players and the league met in court today for a federal appeals hearing on the legality of the three-month-old lockout. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The big news today was the continuation of the court battle between NFL owners and players. Both sides presented oral arguments today in the league's appeal of a lower court decision to lift the lockout. However, the real story seems to be the settlement talks going on in the more productive confines of the suburban Chicago, where owners and players sat down in secret this week, sans lawyers. Today comes some very encouraging news from those talks.

Mike Freeman from CBSSports.com reports that NFL owners made "significant concessions" as part of those talks, which is allowing for very real progress. What those concessions are Freeman doesn't say, but he speculates that it has to do with the money, the additional $1 billion off the top of league revenues that owners wanted. 

Here's Freeman:

My highly educated guess: one of them is the owners continuing to come down significantly from their original demand of taking another $1 billion off the top of player earnings. The players always believed this was an outrageous demand and the players were right.

The players are in turn making concessions of their own so the standoff has become a negotiation, a settlement discussion. In the end, both sides will be unhappy with the deal which means it'll be a fair one.

With the league looking at higher and higher revenues every year, the original proposed made by owners essentially cut players out of the increased revenue by untying the salary cap from direct profit sharing. I suspect with projected revenue growth looking like it does, there's room for some give back in there. 

That there are now reports of concession being made in talks - talks without lawyers - is a very good sign. 

UPDATE: Goodell, touring Ft. Bragg, NC, confirmed that more talks between players and owners are scheduled to happen in the near future. He did not confirm when. 

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