At one point Thursday, the condition of the NFL labor talks -- or at least the perception of them -- had frayed to the point where word was the dispute could be "going back to the courts."
Then some dirty work by U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan led to a late-night negotiation session that went until 1 a.m. CT. Boylan wanted the owners and players to stay even later, but they convinced him they were too tired and met Friday morning instead, and the talks were saved.
So, what can we learn from all of that entering this week's talks in New York?
First, there clearly is a deal to be done between these parties, because if there wasn't, then reasons to continue talking after five weeks would have dwindled. Second, that hardly means that deal will be done in time to beat the clock on saving the preseason, which means the parties remain in a very precarious spot with plenty of work left to be done.
The negotiations continue Tuesday morning in Manhattan. Legal teams and staff from each party, in addition to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, are set to talk Tuesday and Wednesday. They'll be joined by owners and players Thursday and Friday.
And it appears that now, finally, the parties locked in a battle that has produced a fourth-month-old lockout are arriving at the 11th hour.