With the league meeting taking place in Chicago Tuesday, it became important for commissioner Roger Goodell to persuade the owners to view the league’s new proposal with open minds and take a true look into a future that would be beneficial to all. There was strong expectation of possible objection to some if not a large portion of the proposal, which could have led to lengthy discussions that would have lasted perhaps into Wednesday.

I feel both the players and owners have encouraged each other in the closed settlement summit meetings held the past few weeks. Progress has been made, a common ground if you will, in the creation of a new CBA.

Neither side really wants the courts deciding their future. (The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering whether or not to reverse a lower court’s decision to lift the lockout.) A ruling could come at any time, possibly before a new CBA can be agreed upon.

“This is the season to get a deal,” Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday before entering the conference room where representatives from all 32 teams were being updated by Goodell and his negotiating committee. “I think the logic that you’re pushing on both sides is saying why get a deal Oct. 1, or whenever, when you could have had oene July 7, or whatever.

The players believe they can justify a 48-percent take because of the projected revenue growth as well as built-in mechanisms that require teams to spend close to 100 percent of the salary cap, a source told ESPN.com’s John Clayton. The mandatory minimum spending increase is an element that concerns lower-revenue clubs. Sources say this has been an issue among the 32 owners for years.

With the revenues projected to double by 2016 to $18-20 billion annually, all players including retired players will benefit from improved health and pension which will grow yearly and increase over the length of the next CBA.

As I tweeted early in the day, it is extremely interesting that for the past three weeks, the meetings between the owners and the players have been sworn to silence. Sources on both sides were not willing to divulege information from their sessions. However, a full-blown proposal of ideas and possible concepts was laid out by three ESPN journalists that I highly respect (Chris Mortensen, John Clayton and Adam Schefter). These are the guys I consider mentors in this second career of mine, and they were the ones able to get the information from the meetings.

On a day where real progress was seemingly made, another individual close to the situation the last several weeks took more of a pessimistic approach toward today’s information. That person said, “I’m leery of them (owners) pumping up expectations through the media, then pulling the carpet out from under the players. That’s been done in the past.”

These are the details of the proposal reported by ESPN that may lead to a new CBA that was discussed in Chicago and pitched to NFL owners according to sources:

  • Players get 48 percent of “all revenue,” without ther extra $1 billion credit off the top that previously had been requested by owners.
  • Players’ shares will never drop below 46.5 percent under the new concept or formula currently being negotiated.
  • Teams will be required to spend close to 100 percent of the salary cap.
  • Rookie wage scale or cap is a major part of the negotiations which both sides want.
  • 2009 rules will stay in place with four years needed for unrestricted free-agent qualifications. Certain tags will be retained, (franchise tag etc).
  • 18-game regular season is not a deal breaker, still in the negotiating process and at no point is mandated in deal.
  • New 16-game Thursday night TV package beginning in 2012.
  • Owners still will get some expense credits that will allow funding for new stadiums, which is good news for Minnesota, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  • Retirees to benefit from improved health care, pension benefits as revenue is projected to double to $18-20 billion by 2016.

Mortensen, Clayton and Schefter also spoke about a salary floor that would keep teams within 90 percent of the cap. The players have been concerned that some teams whose revenue streams don’t match up with the richer clubs would try to hold down salary spending.

With so much still on the table and miles to go before the finish line, you can’t ignore the huge amount of progress being made and the focused effort. Both sides are working hard to come together and find a happy medium that is prosperous for both sides. Why couldn’t they have done this in March and saved both side millions of dollars in lawyer’s fees? Why couldn’t they have done this in March and saved fans around the frustration of going through these last three months?

And most important, why couldn’t they have done this in March allowing the players to get ready for the 2011 season the way they have been used to their entire careers?