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DeMaurice Smith: NFL Labor Deal Not Close

I was really, really hoping I wouldn't have to deliver any more labor news that didn't involve the words "NFL lockout" and "over."

Unfortunately, whether it's a gambit or the truth, DeMaurice Smith delivered bad news to about 50 players on Wednesday. He warned them not to expect an immediate resolution, because the two sides are far apart on important issues like how hard they should punch fans in the face, as well as how often.

I kid! They've agreed it should be pretty hard and daily. The real issues appear to everything from years of service time before free agency to money parceled out to retired players. Those gulfs would appear to contradict some of the reports put out there by NFL reporters, who had begun to express confidence that a deal would be complete by mid-July.

What's going on here? Even guessing seems like asking for it, the way these negotiations have gone, but I'd say Smith is reacting to a little souring of the negotiations. You have your hard-line owners matched up against Smith, who is trying to drive the best possible bargain for his players. The result is a slowed-down process that will still end by August, if either side has any sense at all.

So it appears the wheels are spinning again. What say you?