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Negotiations Ramping Up Between NFL, Players

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It's taken longer for the NFL and players to realize the stakes of the lockout than we fans, who have been rocking back and forth and muttering "football" for months now.

That shouldn't surprise anyone. Both the owners and players have been consumed by their desire to do right by their own groups, a perfectly understandable impulse, but one that could come with a high cost. They've finally started meeting in earnest, sans lawyers, and have used this week to resume discussion in New York.

What drove the two sides together, you ask? What else?

League sources indicate that the cancellation of the preseason would cost the NFL approximately $1 billion, while a lack of resolution by August 1 would come at a price of $350 million. While those numbers are inexact, there's no question that the loss of revenue -- which will begin once the preseason games come off the schedule -- will make negotiations exponentially more difficult. The pie will shrink, resulting in less money to go around in a situation that, for both sides, is about making the finances right.

What a surprise. The important thing here is that both sides suddenly realized that dragging this out is not in either party's best interest, and that's why I'm truly optimistic that the talks are going to result in an agreement of some kind before the season. It just has to beat the courts, which both sides set in motion in their arrogance and hubris.

Good news? You decide.