The owners and the players were able to get out of their own way long enough to finally agree on something. To keep talking. As the clock was ticking down on Thursday, that was the best outcome we could have hoped for. They agreed to a 24 hour extension to the current CBA and then a seven-day extension to Friday March 11th. So after two years of knowing exactly when this deal would expire, they had to ask a judge for an extension. Sound like the kind of crap I pulled in grade school on book reports, but I digress. There’s finally a light at the end of the NFL labor tunnel. Unfortunately, it still could be a freight train coming to wallop all of us fans.
They are finally really talking, so lets not get our panties in a knot over the fact that the two sides didn’t really start talking until the deal just about expired. It’s what most people predicted and it’s almost exactly what happened in 2006. Glacial forces like these don’t won’t to budge on their three major issues aren’t going to get down to the brass tacks until they have a gun to their heads. As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com has been saying for most of the week, a lockout is a lot like skydiving for the owners. It’s easy to talk about before you do it, but when your on the plane and it’s time to jump, that’s when it becomes scary. It’s a great analogy.
It also sounds like the players were much better prepared than the owners expected. They got a little bit of luck when Judge Doty ruled that the TV deals that the owners struck with the networks to continue getting paid even if there were no games next season violated the CBA. Now some leverage flung over to the players, and they decide to keep applying the pressure. They threatened to decertify the union, and sue the league for anti-trust using some of the biggest stars in the league. (Learn about decertification here.) From that point, it seems like the owners and Goodell finally decided to take the players seriously, because if they didn’t this wasn’t going to be a simple work stoppage during the off-season. This was going to become an all out war that would eat into at least part of the 2011 season. (I know I’m using vauge words like “seems” a lot, but no one is really sure what is going on in the room.)
Now both sides have agreed to a seven-day extension (technically, five-days since they aren’t meeting until Monday.) It sounds like great news because it’s the first time they are having substantial talks. BUT it’s not time to pop the champaign yet. As you can tell, I’ve been following this whole mess very closely (Twitter was created for stories like this!) As much as everyone is reporting this as positive news, I’ve had yet to hear any mention of how these two sides are going to get together on the 18 game schedule, the extra billion dollars the owners want off the top, and the rookie salary cap. It took these guys a day and a half to agree to talk for another five days. Do we think they can work these issues out in five? Stranger things have happened.