We’ve resisted writing about the ups and down of the NFL labour negotiations, because much like the ongoing debt ceiling nightmare, there’s been nothing but misdirection, misinformation, and a lot of false hope.However, this Thursday could be the key moment when everything finally comes together.
Not just because those following the situation closely think the owners will be voting on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that day, but because if they don’t vote for one, then we will have reached the point where the NFL will have to start cancelling preseason games.
The first scheduled game is August 7. That’s when players and owners both start losing money and things get really ugly.
Even if the deal was done tomorrow, it will take at least a week for the union to re-form, settle all the outstanding lawsuits, ratify the deal, and begin free agency, allowing teams to hastily throw together rosters before training camps start. If the fight goes on much longer, there won’t be time for that and on-time games.
However, the consensus over the last few days has been that most of the major issues – including the player/owner revenue split and new free agency rules – have been sorted out. Owners meetings are scheduled for Thursday and key team employees have been ordered to attend, so that they can immediately learn all the new rules should the deal go through.
So after all this time, what happened to finally bring the two sides together? Money, of course.
One, with the Hall of Fame Game on the horizon, the concept of losing money (about $200 million a week, by some estimates) suddenly became very real to some owners.
Two, it seems that the players finally revealed their trump card last week: A secret insurance policy that would have paid every union member $200,000 if the 2011 season was canceled. With the NFL’s own “lockout fund” tied up in the courts, the idea of a long-drawn fight became a lot less appealing.
So while we still remain unconvinced of anything until the papers are signed, there is hope that this is the beginning of the end for the lockout and no football will be missed. (Just don’t hold your breath.)
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