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NFL Lockout 2011: What They're Saying As Optimism Fades

NFL owners and players had sought to at least have the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement in place by the Fourth of July. But, as we begin that holiday weekend there seems to be nothing to celebrate on the NFL labor front. A 15-hour negotiating session Thursday produced more questions than answers, and while the sides are reportedly back at the table today the recent optimism seems to be fading.

Here is a look at some of what is being about the NFL Lockout from a variety of reliable sources around the Inter-Google.

N.F.L. Labor Deal Is Likely to Be Weeks Away -

The N.F.L. had hoped to have at least an agreement in principle in place around the Fourth of July, but three people who have been briefed on the negotiations said that although a resolution remained possible within the next 10 days, it was more likely that negotiations would drag on past that time.

One person said that little progress on the critical issues that divide the sides had been made earlier this week, when lawyers and staff members negotiated without owners and players in attendance, and another said he still believed it was possible that games would be missed and that it would require a breakthrough for a deal to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Sources: Optimism waning, latest NFL talks trending 'backwards' - ESPN

Optimism is waning after four consecutive days of negotiations between NFL owners and players and was described as trending "backwards," player sources told ESPN.

Player sources said owners have reneged on a simplified formula that would have given players 48 percent of all revenue.

Player sources reaffirmed a setback in talks occurred when owners last week went "retro" on the formula that will divide the estimated $9.3 billion in annual revenue.

Sources: 'Bizarre' twists stifle NFL labor talks - NFL - Yahoo! Sports

"It’s just bizarre right now," one source on the players’ side said Thursday. "Two weeks ago, I was optimistic. I didn’t realize that we weren’t even close to close. It’s disheartening."

I’ve talked to key figures from both camps, and others who are more neutral while familiar with the state of negotiations, and I’m still trying to figure out how what one source described as a verbal handshake between players and owners regarding a total-revenue formula earlier this month has degenerated into a montage of mutual finger-pointing.

None of this is good news. If this drags on much longer training camps will undoubtedly be delayed, and if that happens there is no telling how much football will be missed.