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Union claims reports of progress are “speculation”

DeMaurice Smith, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Domonique Foxworth, Sean Morey

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, second from left, accompanied by, from left, Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, and former NFL wide receiver Sean Morey arrive for football labor negotiations with the NFL involving a federal mediator, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


The NFL and the players’ union are trying hard to comply with the promise to keep quiet about the specific contents of the labor negotiations occurring daily since last Friday under the auspices of federal mediator George H. Cohen. They’re trying so hard that, when information slips out of the room, they simply deny that it has.

“Every report about what’s happening in the room at this point is pure speculation,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told the Associated Press via e-mail on Tuesday.

Of course, since Atallah isn’t personally in the room, he doesn’t actually know whether any reports are indeed speculation. We’ve reported that Tuesday was “big day” for progress in the process, though we haven’t been able to track down any specifics as to the issue(s) about which there may have been a breakthrough. But we stand by that report, and we understand why the union and the league would feel compelled to dismiss any report, out of further respect for the vow of silence that the parties took when the process commenced on Friday of last week.

Apart from our report, the two sides surely are making progress. As we’ve pointed out a time or two, they’re not sitting in the room doing Sudoku and eating pepperoni pizza. With five full days -- including Saturday, Sunday, and Presidents’ Day -- of talks and at least two more to come, it’s unthinkable that the process would be continuing if some progress wasn’t being made.

Our guess (and, yes, this part is speculation) is that Cohen initially focused the parties on smaller issues, hoping to build some momentum as the parties move toward the tougher issues.

So progress undoubtedly is being made. The great unknowns are this point are: (1) the specific amount of progress made; and (2) the specific amount of progress left to be made before striking a deal.

As to those two points, we’ll agree with Atallah that any reports are speculation, because no one is talking about the specifics.