I was talking with Stevie P, our 97.3 The Dawg sports guy and host of Thinking Out Loud on ESPN 1420 the other day. We were talking about sports, or the lack of sports to talk about. Professional baseball certainly has its fans but most people around here are fans, not fanatics. Throw in the fact that the closest to home Houston Astros are playing like a Double-A team and baseball slips a little further out of mind.

 What about the Saints and the NFL? This should be the time of year when rabid fans are chomping at the bit to see recent draft picks and free agents getting signed and getting ready for training camp. With the current labor dispute we might not see those signings and training camps until much later unless of course the rumour mill is to be believed.

There does appear to be a glimmer of hope of not only saving the entire season, but getting training camp and pre-season games in as scheduled. The latest scuttlebutt sounds very hopefull that a lot of the major issues are allegedly very close to a handshake.

The bigger sticking points appear to be over a rookie salary cap and first right of refusal for free agents. The rookie salary cap I think is a wonderful idea. In no other business but sports would you pay an unproven new hire a huge wage and a huge bonus. The big question appears to be how deep into the first round the rookie restrictions would go and just how low or high that salary cap would be. The players want to make sure that the money is still being spent and they are proposing the extra money rookies would make should be funneled into veteran player salaries and retirement funds.

The free agent issue, I can really see why both sides have a big dog in the fight. Free agents quite often are the difference between making the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl and having a disappoint season. Free agent players are often proven commodities and can bring the level of a teams play up in a hurry. The Federal Mediator assigned to help both sides come together on these issues is on vacation this week, that might be a good thing.

The players and the owners representatives are still scheduled to meet on Tuesday and hopefully move a little closer together on these two big stumbling blocks. Goodness knows the fans want their football. We at 97.3 The Dawg are ready to bring you another great season of the Saints too. I just hope the talking heads can be replace by the crashing of pads in two weeks when training camps are expected to open.