Maybe, just maybe, both sides in the ongoing NFL labor dispute are starting to realize a deal of some kind has to be hammered out - and soon.
The lockout has officially reached crunch time. With most training camps set to open in a month, talks between owners and players seemed to grow in frequency and intensity in recent days.
Why? It's all about money.
If the lockout extends much longer, both sides will begin to lose real money.
To this point, there has been little reason for hand-wringing on either side. Players have worked out on their own or perhaps in tandem with teammates, which they might find preferable to what used to be called minicamps, but for some reason came to be known as OTAs, or "organized team activities."
The owners had no reason for concern until the labor dispute actually threatened the season.
We're not quite there yet, but we're getting closer, which is why discussions are escalating. Both sides are starting to realize that postponing the start of training camp and then the season would be a disaster.
But a huge roadblock remains to a new labor agreement - the issue of dividing revenues. The owners want the players to agree to a share of just 48 percent of all revenues. That figure already has dropped from 52.7 percent in 2006 to 50.5 percent last season, according to ESPN.
A drop of mere percentage points might not seem like much, but when the NFL's revenue pie is as high as $9.3 billion - which it was in 2010 - a couple of percentage points could mean the players would be leaving a lot of money on the table if they agreed to the owners' latest proposal.
I know professional sports is big business. College sports have become big business, too. Just ask Ohio State. There are those who will tell you high school sports is headed there, too.
I hadn't spent a lot of time looking into these abstract numbers because, frankly, I don't care. Like most pro football fans, I just want to turn on my television in early September and watch games.
That's one reason the lockout has barely registered on my personal radar to this point: it's in its fourth month, but all we've really missed are meaningless stories about OTAs.
Those hurt the most are players who were drafted in April or who weren't drafted and hoped to sign free-agent contracts. Former Warren G. Harding cornerback Chris Rucker, drafted by the Indianapolis Colts out of Michigan State, is waiting to begin his NFL career. Former West Virginia safety Sidney Glover, Rucker's former high school teammate, went undrafted and hopes to be in an NFL training camp next month.
That will only happen if the owners and players can reach agreement on some issues, the biggest one being how to carve up the cash cow provided to both sides by a football-loving public. There is too much money to be had on both sides for an agreement not to happen, right?
Critical mass isn't far off. If training camps don't start on time, the season will be in jeopardy.
Maybe that stark reality has finally hit both sides. Remember, in the NFL stark realities are measured not in yardage and points, but in dollars.