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Reports: De Smith attended not-so-secret meeting with owners

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)


Initial reports of the clandestine Chicago-area meeting involving multiple owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell omitted reference to one key attendee.

Per multiple reports (including one from Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN and one from Albert Breer of NFL Network), NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith was present, too. Other NFLPA* officials also were there.

Per Schefter and Mortensen, the two sides met into the evening in an effort to bridge some of their various and sharp differences. The meeting was so secretive that some owners didn’t even know it was happening.

Though a potential agreement continues to be a long way away, there’s some hope that the foundation could be in place for a deal to be reached later this month.

The key, in our view, will be for the two sides to use the uncertainty hovering over the Eighth Circuit’s consideration of whether the lockout will be lifted as motivation to control their destiny. Helping that effort could be questions or statements from one of the two judges believed to be leaning toward allowing the lockout to remain in place indicating that one or both of them quite possibly could go the other way.

UPDATE: It’ll also be interesting to know whether the talks occurred without the lawyers present. If so, there could be cause for real optimism, given the belief that the lawyers have been dragging down the process and/or providing affirmative obstacles to making a deal.