NFL Lockout: A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

So tell me Chiefs fans.  Are you as fed up with the lockout news as I am?  Do you (as I do) fidget in your chair when you sign in to your favorite news site only to see several new articles that don't really tell you anything?  Have you noticed that the articles seem evenly divided between those that say a new CBA is near because progress is being made, and those that talk only of obstacles to getting a deal done and how those obstacles could derail the whole process?  I am so irritated with this process that I am beginning to burp up pearls (oysters irritate sand for years to produce pearls you know and the longer this stuff drags out, the more irritated I am getting).  

I mean, it really is getting ridiculous.  The media tells us something and then immediately refutes itself in the next sentence. Here's what I'm talking about. 

 

Here's something from John Clayton a couple days back:

Although everyone has good vibes about the way talks are going between owners and players, this week is the most vital to start getting a deal done.

Talks without a deal can't go too much past July 4. The pressure is already obvious. The Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets ran out of time to plan training camps away from their headquarters, a blow to Ravens and Jets fans. The St. Louis Rams will probably be the next team to decide to stay at home.

Start getting a deal done?  What have they been doing for the last 100 days?  Playing tiddly winks?  I mean, I am all about John's enthusiasm here but losing part of the season isn't exactly something that the owners just started thinking about last week, no?  Is the fact that the talks without a deal 'can't' go much past July 4 because it jeopardizes the season the reason that everyone has good vibes about these talks?  Talks most certainly can go way beyond July 4 if both sides are committed to scuttling the season.

This morning we got this little jewel by Jason Cole of yahoo sports:

The NFL owners and players seem to be getting closer toward making a deal, but there is another group that may hold up an agreement: retirees.  Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole reports that attorney Michael Hausfeld said "that his group will not sign off on a court settlement until its demands are satisfied.

Ok, so now the retirees (that word sounds a lot like referees doesn't it?  I'm not much on zebras either) are starting their own fire in the never ending conflagration that is determined to derail the CBA train.  At least I can understand them a bit more than any of the other factions.  These guys are done playing ball and have latched on with the intent of feathering their nest to the largest extent possible since we are in a lockout.  It doesn't really matter that much to them exactly how long this thing takes.  I get it.  I just hope they don't get too carried away, muddy up the process and screw up the season!

It seems that no matter where you turn for answers, all you get are more questions.  The owners met last week to discuss things.  Some of them are apparently not that happy with the current way things are going.  According to McClatchy Newspapers, some of the owners are lobbing grenades at each other.

If these negotiations fall apart now, it will be because of a contentious class warfare among the owners. It could be a struggle of wills and business priorities between high-revenue owners such as Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder and lower-revenue owners such as Ralph Wilson and Mike Brown.  This owner-vs.-owner issue reared its ugly head earlier this week," Webster University associate professor Patrick Rishe said. "It's the small-market guys who are at the bottom of the league in franchise value, who could cause this thing to fall apart, and the squawking has been there for a while."


This would indicate that there is a group of owners within owners who could potentially cause a stalemate.  These small market owners tend not to like having the league agreeing on forcing them to spend their portion of shared revenues on players salaries by including provisions in the new CBA that requires the teams to spend nearly 100% of salary cap amounts in cash.  This attitude seems like a double edged sword to me.  If you don't spend the money on salaries because you need it elsewhere, then you theoretically get less quality players and that in turn makes your team worse which causes the team to have fewer fans and sell less products and tickets and that lowers the league's overall revenue and that in turn, causes you to get even less money next season.  

Obviously, over the last few years, revenues have been increasing so it is difficult to tell if this has actually been happening.  If it hasn't been that way, then I can fully understand an owners mentality in thinking that they should be able to run their team as they see fit.  The problem is that they are getting money that has been produced by someone else's team and the fact that this money comes with some strings attached should not be that surprising.

Be that as it may, it's just one more bullet in the gun taking aim at the table where the new CBA is supposed to be signed. Just like the news that the league is going to enforce it's conduct policy as soon as it returns to business as usual.  This from Josh Katzwoitz of CBS sports:

It sounds like, as NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells the Tennessean, the league will act as if the personal conduct policy applied all along and punish those offenders who were naughty during the lockout.  “The personal conduct policy is not part of the CBA,” Aiello told the paper. “It is a league policy established by the commissioner. We review any violations of law by NFL employees for potential discipline. The personal conduct policy is not being applied to players now but will be applied when they return. Players will be held accountable for violations of law that occurred during the lockout.”

Now, I have no problem with the league enforcing it's personal conduct policy.  My question is, is this really what the league wants the players focusing on right now considering they are trying to get a CBA agreed to?  What if this is something that puts a burr under the wrong saddle and we suddenly see the owners alone at the negotiating table?  This thing is pretty emotional for the players.  Why would the league send a message that "You will be tried and convicted for your crimes" against the league during this time?  Don't they have PR people that could tell them that this might not be the best idea right now?

I know I'm just a fan.  I know I have never presided over BILLIONS of dollars, but why does it seem that as the dollar amount increases, the amount of common sense applied to the issue decreases?  Were't we all just thrilled not to long ago when the lawyers were taken out of the process to facilitate discussion?  So what has changed?  I found this by Sports Direct.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith met Tuesday for the first of four negotiating sessions sans owners and players this week.  Goodell and Smith were joined by staff and counsel in Minnesota to work out details of a possible new collective bargaining agreement, including discussing a rookie wage scale.

Holy forked tongues Batman!  I thought that the whole idea was to keep the lawyers at bay so these things could be discussed between the players and owners, yet here we are letting the mouthpieces go to work...all by themselves.

All these reports just don't seem to go hand-in-hand.  We keep hearing that a deal will get done, yet what we read are reports about all the things that are still preventing that from happening.  Maybe it's all posturing.  Maybe.  My fear is that after all this time squeezing a turnip and looking for blood, when it finally comes down to brass tacks and both sides are asked to sign the paper we won't have a quorum.  If that happens, then there is more talking and more posturing on our horizon.  That's all well and good, except for the big clock on the wall telling us that we are nearly out of time.  We have reached the point of no return where some of the season will have to be sacrificed.

This whole thing reminds me of the time that an employee (let's call him Doug) that I was in charge of was given the responsibility of delivering a huge order.  I was going to be out of town attending a company meeting and had left all the details written down for Doug.  Not only did I write it out, but I met with Doug (who was a manager by the way) the day before the delivery and he assured me that he would take care of it.  I made it very clear that we couldn't miss this delivery or be late because it was time specific and EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.  Doug looked me right in the eyes and said, "I got it".  Doug overslept the next day and the delivery was a disaster.

I just had a horrible thought.  What if the person that has been telling us that there is just too much at stake for a deal to not get done, is Doug?

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