The roller coaster ride that is the NFL lockout continued on Thursday with another wild day of news. It started with the realization that the players didn't sign off on the proposed CBA on Wednesday like most expected they would. In spite of this, NFL owners went ahead and approved a proposal of their own and held a press conference that gave off the impression the lockout would soon be over. That was not what happened at all, though.
The excitement about the potential end of the lockout quickly dissipated when it became obvious the players were not on board with what happened. Considering Roger Goodell said he talked with DeMaurice Smith prior to the presser, it seemed like the two sides were on the same page, but that is nowhere near the case.
After the press conference ended, emails were sent out to player reps stressing that an agreement with the owners was not in place. Many players proceeded to tweet about how the owners are trying to pull a fast one on everyone, and many believe the press conference was a big show of gamesmanship to put public pressure on the players. That initially worked with many siding with the owners, but as things have quieted down the PR battle is starting to even out again.
The PR battle, of course, isn't what is important. What is important is that a deal gets done and approved by both sides. The lockout would finally be over if the players simply approve the deal that the owners ratified, but it's not clear if or when that will happen. The players are claiming they hadn't even seen the full deal the owners ratified as of Thursday night, so it appears the first part of Friday will be spent reviewing the documents associated with the owners' proposal.
No vote was held during the NFLPA's Thursday night conference call, but that doesn't mean all hope is lost. Right now things just aren't moving as quickly as we all hoped, but as Chris Mortensen said, it's entirely possible the players could not only vote on the new deal tomorrow, but they could very well approve it. The stink they're making on Thursday night might be over how the owners are handling this publicly more than anything, and once they actually review the full deal all issues could possibly be resolved.
My biggest problem with what went down on Thursday is that the labor situation once again regressed into a game of pointing fingers. For the last couple months that hadn't been the case. The two sides seemed genuine in trying to get a deal done together, and negotiations, though slow, appeared to be progressing. As of last week the outlook was very good for a deal to get done, but the owners decided to hold a big press conference over approving their own deal, and the representatives of the players responded by throwing quite the hissy fit. Do they have a reason to be upset? It appears they do, but like everything with the lockout, there were a lot of overreactions. Actually, that can be said about the actions of both sides on Thursday.
Obviously the events of Thursday make a deal by the end of Friday look much less likely, but who knows at this point. Trying to project what is going to happen in the next hour, let alone the next day, is becoming impossible with how many contradictory stories are out there about the status of a potential deal, and it doesn't help that both sides are overreacting. This is leading to fans getting their hopes up only to be disappointed over and over.
If I could, I would simply hit the fast forward button to when the lockout is officially over and both sides have agreed to a new deal. That way I could skip past the constant drama that comes along with every little piece of news and not have to deal with the annoying PR battle. While things seem bleak right now, a deal will get done at some point. It's just that until that happens, there will be "turbulence," as Andrew Brandt called it on Thursday. This turbulence is extremely annoying and frustrating, but unfortunately it comes with the territory of wrapping up a labor struggle of this magnitude.
I think Texans running back Arian Foster described the situation best on Thursday when he tweeted, "Owners blah blah blah...players blah blah blah....lockout blah blah blah." (Side note: If you want a laugh, check out some other tweets from Foster on the lockout.) Right now there is a lot of noise and little action, and until something official happens, this whole situation is just annoying for everybody -- fans, players, coaches, owners, etc.
The minute this is resolved everybody will be ecstatic, but for now we are continuing to play a waiting game because the two sides in this dispute still can't seem to get on the same page for an extended period of time. Whether it's not communicating enough, worrying too much about the PR aspect of this or something else, the fact is a deal isn't done. Now a deal won't be done until July 22 at the earliest. My patience ran out a long time ago, and I'm sure the same goes for most fans.
At this point I don't care who is at fault for the latest delay. I don't care about the PR battle. And I especially don't care about hearing the excuses being made by each side. I just want a deal to get done, and until that happens I don't think either side should speak to the media. Unless they have good news to report, I've heard just about enough out of both Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. Just wake me up when football is back.