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Key figures arrive for Thursday’s talks in Minnesota

Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith,

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and National Football League Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, center, speak to the media outside of the Ritz-Carlton hotel after addressing players during the NFLPA rookie symposium on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in Sarasota, Fla. Goodell and Smith are flying back to Minneapolis together to resume negotiations in the four-month old labor dispute.(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)


We (I) predicted several weeks ago that the NFL and the NFLPA* would strike an agreement in principle on June 30. We (I) now predict that I’ll be scraping egg off o’ my face when the clock strikes midnight on the last day of the sixth month of the year.

But the parties are still trying to get something done, and key figures have arrived for the talks after the owners and players skipped two days of meetings. Albert Breer of NFL Network, who braved the ice and snow of Minnesota earlier this year only to now be bakin’ potatos, bakin’ in the sun. He has posted on his Twitter page a list of the folks who are present at the meeting.

For the players, the attendees include DeMaurice Smith, Jeff Saturday, Domonique Foxworth, Sean Morey, Brian Waters, Richard Berthelsen, and Jim Quinn. Apparently not present is attorney Jeffrey Kessler, possibly because he’s tied up with the NBA labor mess.

Owners in attendance include Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Giants co-owner John Mara, along with Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Although the two sides were once closer to a deal than they are right now, a deal remains in striking distance. To get there, the owners must resist the urge to capitalize on the players’ sense that a deal is inevitable -- and De Smith must muster the nerve to know when the time is right to close.