This week, the majority of the talk about the NFL has been revolving around the weather in Dallas and the Super Bowl matchup. But there’s also been conversations about the negotiation for a new NFL labor agreement.

The outlook for the 2011 season hasn’t been looking very good. The NFL and NFL Players Union seem to be dug in on certain issues and show no signs of budging. One of those issues is the 18-game schedule that NFL owners are pushing for. Players are concerned for their safety and in a recent Associated Press poll, the 18-game schedule might not be so popular with fans either.

There’s an optimism amongst fans that cooler heads will prevail and save the 2011 season.

“I always believe that fear does the work of reason,” Michael Lombardi, of Showtime’s Inside the NFL, said on the Mully and Hanley Show. “I think both sides should be fearful [a lockout] will happen, and then reason comes in. And I think that’s what we need to have happen. I think it has to be done at the bargaining table.”

LISTEN: Michael Lombardi On The Mully And Hanley Show

In an effort to intensify some of their negotiations, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith are scheduled to meet on Saturday in Dallas to move negotiations along.

“The only way a deal is going to get done is if you communicate and talk,” Lombardi said. “And I’m glad to see they’re doing it. All the rhetoric, all the newspaper ads, all the TV ads are meaningless. You have to be able to get out in front of people and sit down in a room and work out the best deal for both sides.”

And that’s exactly what Lombardi expects, and all NFL fans hope for. The league may have reached a new height of popularity this season, and a lockout could do serious damage.

“The game is too great,” Lombardi said. “The Pro Bowl outdrew the World Series’ Game Three, I mean come on…This sport is too popular to let it just slip away.”

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