The NFL and players plan to return to the bargaining table next week and both parties have been maintaining communication in between face-to-face meetings, another sign of the seriousness of these talks.
Friday marks the 90th day since the lockout began on March 12, and also puts the NFL 90 days away from the regular season opener.
The parties began these clandestine-style, face-to-face meetings last week, with a three-day summit in suburban Chicago. The league and players followed that up with a two-day meeting earlier this week in Long Island, N.Y.
Among those who have taken part in the meetings are Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, owners/labor committee members Jerry Richardson, Robert Kraft, John Mara, Art Rooney II, Jerry Jones, Dean Spanos and Clark Hunt, and active players Domonique Foxworth, Tony Richardson, Mike Vrabel and Jeff Saturday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan -- who ran court-ordered mediation in his Minneapolis chambers in April and May -- has also been present, though in a different capacity than the one he filled during the mediation.
"We're talking now, we're making progress, but there's a lot of work to be done," said Kraft, who's been at all five of the most recent sessions, on Thursday.
"This is a very hard deal, with all the different variables. In the end, the fact that principles -- who are going to be sitting down across from one another five years, 10 years from now -- are sitting down and talking about the problems is a positive thing. There's a lot of hard work to be done, but the good news is we're talking."