Thursday, March 10, 2011Posted: 1:50 PM
By John Mullin
The reasons for optimism continue to flow out of Washington in the NFLNFLPA talks even though a key in all of this, as we stress in virtually every collective bargaining story, is to realize that nothing is settled until its settled.
The latest, reported by Mike Freeman at CBSSports.com and elaborated on by Gregg Rosenthal at ProFootballTalk.com, is that some owners appear willing to open team books for examination as part of discussions on how much of a 1 billion sum the owners should receive based on needs and diminishing profits.
Not surprisingly, other owners remain opposed. But a difference of opinion on an issue likely shouldnt be considered a fracturing in the ownership ranks. A league official told me that he had never seen owners so unified in thinking, and while some will inevitably take differing sides on an issue, disagreement shouldnt necessarily be taken as dissension.
Former coach and current commentator Tony Dungy had a simple bit of advice for the two sides in the labor talks, but he also isnt sure its possible, which is the bad news from someone with long, storied experience in the NFL.
Speaking with Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk.coms Live show, Dungy underscored the obvious: Weve got to find the middle ground. And thats where in the past the Dan Rooneys and Wellington Maras have been so good. But he was not overwhelmingly optimistic for a simple reason: My fear is that we dont have enough Wellington Maras, Dan Rooneys, Gene Upshaws.
Well see. With the number of owners streaming into the meetings, you have to hope (believe?) that the Maras and Rooneys slipped in among em.
Bears Vice Chairman George McCaskey, President Ted Phillips and former stars Richard Dent, Kurt Becker and Otis Wilson from 1980s teams are joining Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) at Soldier Field to bring awareness and show support for legislation moving through the General Assembly to help address the issue of concussions in Illinois elementary and high schools. Theyll join members of the IHSA, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and other groups in drawing the spotlight to a problem that is now finally being recognized for the insidious specter it is.