Yesterday's ruling was the icing on the cake for an already brutal day. The lockout is still on and unless a miracle happens, it will stay on. I hope that in light of all this, De Smith takes that's as an indication to push aside the litigation and start negotiating.
I've probably written about 5 or 6 different posts on POD about the lockout since March. As many of you know I firmly believe that the NFL and the Players are in this turmoil not just because of Money; but because of incompetence, procrastination, stubbornness and greed.
On the players end I would certainly hate to be De Smith right now. The players are what they are... football players. There not layers or businessmen. They go and play football and collect their paychecks, endorsement deals and Superbowl rings. They have depended on Smith to get them the best deal and to look out for the best interests of the players and their futures.
I'm not Oliver Stone so I'm not going to start citing theories about how the two or three weeks of negotiating was a smoke screen to put off time to get to litigation. Was decertifying all part of the master plan? Who the hell knows. All I can assume is that the players (like myself) didn't even know what the hell the word "decertify" meant until this past February. They were convinced that as long as they were at the negotiating table, they wouldn't get the deal they thought they deserved so the best course of action would be to sue the NFL in court... seeing as Easter fell right in the middle of the past 2 months of the lockout, a fitting analogy would be that they were "putting all their eggs in one basket." This was a gamble no matter how you look at it, and at the time it probably seemed like a better option than sitting at the table. Why not? The owners stood firm with "Take our deal or we won't let you play football."
Now that the leverage has shifted overwhelmingly into the Owners Court, the owners have the most valuable commodity on their side. Time.
The next hearing for the appeal is on June 3, that’s over 2 weeks away. The lockout has been in effect Since March 11th. By that time 3 months would have already gone by. Free agents are still in limbo. Kids who didn't get drafted are trying to stay in shape and trying to establish jobs until this thing blows over. Drafted Rookies are at practice with SOME members of their teams playing backyard football. The Draft was largely affected because you could only trade picks for picks; and some teams with new coaches and new schemes have absolutely no idea about their new systems because they're not allowed to talk to their coaches.
And don't think for a second that the owners are angels in this. They're still public enemy #1 as far as I'm concerned. I have one question for all the owners. If you hated the first deal so much back in 2008 then why in the hell did you agree to it to begin with?
Here is my next question, and this one is to the players. The owners made it very clear that they were sure as hell opting out of the current deal. Is there a reason you didn't take it seriously enough to start negotiating a head of time? Is 3 years not enough time? Or did that not fit into De Smith's brilliant strategy?
The owners are the ones who showcase their athletes every week in the fall and early winter and put on the best show in the United States and now it appears that my tax dollars aren't paying for their stadiums fast enough so another billion off the top seems to be a sufficient figure... at least for now. I didn't ask for Ford Field to be built, I only asked for a Team to be built. I'm still paying for Ford Field anyway and my wish is now being granted after 10 years.
Here is my new wish (which I'm sure will be granted as fast as my other one). Stop saying "It's all about the Fans." Were not stupid; and making conference calls with season ticket holders isn't even a band aid for a bullet wound.
I'm not going to play the rooster and take credit for the sun rise but the solution at this point just seems too simple. They need to get back to the table and get something worked out. De Smith's firework show has just about ran its course and I don't think anybody is confident in litigation anymore. Everyone needs to come to terms with the fact that they can't have it both ways. Somebody is going to end up not getting everything they want and sharing 9.3 billion dollars cannot be that difficult. This isn't like sharing a toy with your little brother, this is a ton of money that will continue to grow year and after year in a winning lottery ticket of a sport.
Do you think it hasn't already cause "irreparably harm?" Here is the Cause & Effect Scenario:
- There are hundreds of Undrafted Free agents who are in limbo and will not have the opportunity to make the football team because this WILL go square into the Pre Season which is where most of them make their mark anyway.
- Football will be flat-out sloppy. I know people think that OTA's are pointless and the Preseason is boring and a flirt with injury disaster but this is where the teams are able to evaluate the talent that they have and make decisions. We can't be still "evaluating" what we have on Monday night against the Bears.
- The diehard fans will never go away, I will still watch the game no matter when it comes back no matter how much this situation pisses me off. The "casual fan" however will not follow along which allows the sport to grow. My girlfriend watches the Lions with me because she sees how into it I am. How can she stay interested if there is no game on?
- Careers are shorter than you think in the NFL. I remember like it was yesterday when LaDanian was drafted and next thing you know, the Chargers released one of the best running backs we've seen since Barry Sanders. Players are only getting older and the longer this drags out, the more time off the clock is wasted.
- Loyalty- The Rooney's are beloved by Pittsburg fans, they will never lose face. But your Jerry Jones's and your Jerry Richardson's of the league are going to be severely disliked by their fans and there will be some fans out there who will think twice about spending their money on Season Tickets in Dallas and Carolina when these guys are the figure heads of this dilemma.
I know I am just spinning my wheels and am basically posting what millions of people are already thinking but for crying out loud... what other option is there at this point? The Media, the fans, everyone has been debating back in forth who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Most fans will site their opinion of both parties (Like I've done) and conclude with that they just want to football back.
I think it’s about time where some of the players start communicating to De Smith and advising him to go back to the table because right now, NOTHING is getting done. How can you say "It's all about the Fans" when you’re not doing anything about the problem? The hearing is in two weeks and it’s in front of the same 3 judges who ruled 2-1 in favor of the owners. Unless the players produce something significant to the judges... game over. The only thing left to do at this point is either negotiate, or start paying attention to Nascar because that’s the only thing you will be seeing on Sunday this fall.