Roger Goodell, Jerry Richardson and Robert Kraft (left to right) walk together after a meeting on April 15, 2011.
The NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations continue for the NFL and NFLPA and while progress seems to be made as time goes along, the tenets of the deal are still being discussed, as ESPN's Chris Mortensen outlined a new proposal being made to NFL owners today.
One man receiving praise for his work is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The lockout began on March 12 and for the first portion of the meetings, Kraft was absent due to a family medical reason.
Since joining the talks, Kraft has been seen as a voice of optimism and hope that a 2011 season is still achievable. Continuous talks have been cause for praise and Kraft believes that everyone is counting on the 2011 season to happen, for the owners, players and especially the fans, something Kraft spoke about following the Patriots' Community MVP event on June 9.
“We have the greatest game in America and a lot of people depending on this game, not just people working in this building—service people, support people,” Kraft said. “I think on Sundays, it’s part of Americana. People plan their day and we have to be very careful that we continue to enhance it. The fact we’re continuing to talk is a very positive sign.”
Kraft was also one of the select owners that joined Roger Goodell for a secret meeting in Illinois earlier this month. This just goes to show that he has had a huge voice in the proceedings and is respected amongst his peers. You can ask anyone that, even the lawyers taking care of the case or who Kraft believes are the people hindering the process altogether, as said in a media conference in Dallas in February.
Will we see a full 2011 NFL season?
“In my opinion, we could get a deal done in the next week,” Kraft said. “If business people sat down on both sides, and we tried to get the lawyers in the background. Get lawyers away from table. Lawyers are deal breakers, not deal makers.”
In a column done by CBSSports.com writer Mike Freeman, Kraft and New York Giants owner John Mara are proving to be the cooler heads in a room full of testosterone and large egos, amongst other things.
Kraft is highly outspoken and although we are not allowed to hear about the specifics of the talks being had behind closed doors, we still have faith that good will prevail and 2011 will be full of football.
All football fans need to do is believe in Kraft as he has been touted as the key for the lock that keeps NFL fans, players and owners out of the 32 stadiums of the NFL.
The talks continue in Chicago on Tuesday, a meeting that is said to be crucial to the future of the 2011 season. At this point, any and all talks are important in the name of progression and as long as Kraft is there, cooler heads will prevail...hopefully.