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2011 NFL Lockout News: Judge Arthur Boylan Ready To Lay Down The Hammer?

Today has seen a mix of news and non-news in regards to the NFL Lockout. Most of it appears mostly positive and we have what might be the first on the record comment from a prominent player on the status of negotiations. Wednesday morning Drew Brees spoke to XX Sports Radio and said the two sides are very close to a settlement and were at the point of ironing out final details. Whether you believe him or not, I give more credence to this comment than the anonymous comment indicating it was far from done.

What could arguably be even more interesting news is the meeting Judge Arthur Boylan has scheduled for next Tuesday. In setting the meeting, Boylan told both sides to send representatives with "full settlement authority." Moreover, the meeting is taking place in Boylan's chambers instead of some random third party location. As Mike Florio pointed out, this could provide Boylan with the best opportunity to "lock the door [and] swallow the key."

Boylan can't force either side to make a given concession, but he can put them in a position to do what is necessary to get a deal done in a 24 or 48 hour time frame. The owners are scheduled to meet on Thursday July 21, which gives the two sides approximately two days to get a final deal done that can be presented to ownership for a vote.

Amidst all this, the Brady lawsuit plaintiffs have begun to put some pressure on the owners. There was some discussion that the leaked "important dates" were ownerships way of creating momentum that would force the players into a deal. At this point that is merely speculation by the media and an unnamed player.

However, whether that's true or not, the players have taken their own step in creating pressure. The NFLPA released a statement from Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in which the players indicated they felt the current deal was a fair one and the time was at hand to get a deal done. Naturally the league responded agreeing that now was the time to get a deal done. There's really nothing of significance in that other than the continued public relations battle to get momentum on their respective side for a deal.