The reason: A lockout is coming. Insiders put chances somewhere between very good and 100 percent.
And so, you have NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith telling Bloomberg News’ Curtis Eichelberger that, “I still feel that a lockout is coming in March,” while also spelling out his pro-player case. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell counters on Mike and Mike, subtlety blaming the players for a lack of movement by saying “We have a lot of work to get done. There’s still sufficient time to do that. But there’s really a window here. This deal is going to be easier to make between now and, let’s say, March.”
Where does this verbal sparing get us?
Well, nowhere really. The players – who have $200 million in the union fund – are going to lose this battle with the owners, who are bolstered by $4 billion in television rights that come due whether or not the 2011 season happens.
The players’ only hope is to win the court of public appeal and perhaps agree to better terms than they otherwise might. This shouldn’t be hugely hard to do, considering the amount of money the owners want them to give up (close to $1 billion for stadium improvements). If Smith and his cohort can persuade the American people that his troops deserve a better deal, it will help his negotiating position.
But in the end, the posturing may prove useless. It’s fat cats against fatter cats. What America really wants is its football.