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DeMaurice Smith gave few details on NFLPA* call

DeMaurice Smith

DeMaurice Smith, former Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, leaves the Federal Courthouse in St. Paul, Minn. Wednesday, April 6, 2011. A group of players is asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction on the lockout the NFL team owners imposed after talks on a new collective bargaining agreement broke off three weeks ago. (AP Photo/Andy King)


NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith told the players on Thursday’s conference call not to “believe the hype,” and that a deal isn’t close. Other than that, he didn’t say much.

One of the players on the call, Minnesota’s Ben Leber, said Smith didn’t offer many details to the players about the status of negotiations.

“The only thing I’ll say about the call was it was nothing enlightening,” Leber told the Star Tribune. “It was pretty vague and rightfully so. We’ve had some issues I think with guys not being totally confidential after those phone calls so it was pretty vague. [Smith] did sound a little bit more optimistic than he has in the past, but very cautiously optimistic. I think that things are moving in the right direction. It sounds like there are a lot of things that have been talked about, nothing totally agreed upon, but I think they are making progress.”

Leber’s comments suggest that Smith doesn’t want players to get their hopes up: He’s not telling them a deal won’t get done, but he’s also not telling them to expect it soon. Leber’s prediction is that the sides are about a month away.

“My gut tells me, and this is my own opinion, that it will be an abbreviated training camp,” Leber said. “We might get in three preseason games. I’m going to guess we’ll get in two preseason games. Get our normal couple of days off before the season starts and I think the season begins the way it should be [on Sept. 8] and is normal.”

That’s a less optimistic assessment than we’ve been hearing from other places, but if even the less optimistic assessments include the regular season beginning on time, that’s a good sign.