As the longest work stoppage in NFL history reached the 100-day marker on Thursday, there were significant signals coming out of suburban Boston that the lockout could be reaching its final days.
The reports that have leaked out of the ongoing contract talks between the owners and players are sounding as favorable as we've heard in the last few months. Instead of the angry saber rattling that characterized the early days of this lockout, the gloom and doom has been replaced with upbeat phrases like "heading in the right direction" and "very fruitful" and the all-important "close."
Sometimes it's dangerous to characterize the progress (or lack thereof) of ongoing negotiations. But from all the most knowledgeable conversations we've heard, a real breakthrough has happened and a season that once looked like it could be at risk is showing signs of life.
The only way a deal doesn't get done now is if somebody out there simply wants to pick a fight and send this lockout into a death spiral that will surely eat up games, profits and a ton of public goodwill.
And if it does happen, if we see this lockout extended into August or September, it won't be that there's some nasty issue on the table that will create another hostile owner-vs.-player hissy fit.
If these negotiations fall apart now, it will be because of a contentious class warfare among the owners. It could be a struggle of wills and business priorities between high-revenue owners such as Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder and lower-revenue owners such as Ralph Wilson and Mike Brown.