POSTED: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 2:32pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 4:48pm
NBC NEWS — In Atlanta Thursday NFL owners expressed hope that the ongoing player lockout could be close to the end-zone.
"I think we have made a ton of progress and I'm really hopeful we can get it across the finish line and get football going," said Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay.
Four months into the face-off between the players and owners, it may still take some time.
Players met again in Washington, but still haven't taken a vote on a new labor agreement.
"There are some issues outstanding left to resolve," said Players Association director DeMaurice Smith.
Even without player approval of a new collective bargaining agreement owners could still ratify a deal.
"It has to be vetted and there will be discussions, but I'm optimistic that we will get a vote today," said Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
The ball would then be tossed back to the players, who sources say are still chasing agreement on things like how to handle workers comp claims and resolve three pending court cases including an anti-trust lawsuit brought by ten players including Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Its not just owners and players worried about money.
Businesses in small towns near the NFL training camps say they're also taking a hit, while football fans say they're the ones really feeling the pain.
A majority of players would have to ratify the deal to get it through on their end, and the clock is ticking.
The preseason is scheduled to start with the Hall of Fame Exhibition game August 7th.
The NFL's lead negotiator said playing that one on time will be a challenge.