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NFL lockout coming Friday?

Questions about the CBA and a potential lockout outnumbered all other questions plied at the Combine, even more than the tedious "did you watch 'Hard Knocks'" questions. Players, general managers and coaches all fielded questions concerning the issue. Not surprisingly, those questions yielded very little in the way of answers. Well, almost nothing. 

Answers from the front office types, the GMs, reflected the frustration (Jerry Reese), exasperation and a genuine sense of bewilderment (Billy Devaney) expected from an executive in charge of the operations of a franchise. These executives have the most unenviable position in the whole affair. It's not the owners that have to hand out pink slips to employees in the buildings. News this morning of the league's decision not to allow work between coaches and players is a reminder that the work of building competitive teams will also be suspended, underscores just how impossible their work is right now. 

Thursday is D-Day, but we might know something before that. Andrew Brandt, the lone optimist in this whole thing, writes today at the NFP that when the NFL and the NFLPA sit down for a second course of mediation tomorrow, "the first few moments" may tell us all we need to know. 

If the sides come back to say that they have caucused and are willing to be flexible on one or more of the core issues, then we have a chance for a CBA, even by Friday. However, if the parties come back still entrenched in their positions, hopes are dashed and the seven days of mediation may have been for naught.

Brandt covers plenty more issues in the piece, something you must read, including decertification and some explanation as to why he's optimistic about it. 

Thursday. Mark you calendars.