If you are like me, and I know I am, there are only two seasons: Football and getting ready for Football. That’s why the whole idea of a NFL labor lockout has an air of pure disaster of Biblical proportion. We don’t need 2012. Doomsday is March 3 when the current CBA expires.
Where are you, Hank Williams, Jr.? Your “Are you ready for some football” anthem takes on new meaning when all my rowdy friends face labor strife. Conflict with the boss is just what we are trying to escape through sports entertainment. Can the BCS fill the void of no NFL Sunday/Monday Night Football?
If football means more to you than weekend entertainment, take at look at Mike Florio’s Ten things to know right now about the labor situation.
Florio describes how a labor lockout disrupts all of the offseason mechanics teams use to improve. There would be a draft, but no player trades or free agent signings. Sorry, Fletcher Smith, you cannot swing a trade of your client Donovan McNabb off the Redskins. Sorry, Mike Shanahan, Albert Haynesworth is still on the payroll.
We are going to miss Gene Upshaw and Paul Tagliabue. Upshaw was the Hall of Fame Oakland Raider and long time executive director of the Players Association. He was as hard-line as they come as a labor leader. Never the less, he recognized that the players’ well-being lay in a financially strong league. Upshaw demanded a greater share of the league’s revenue for players, but he helped the league build money-machine stadiums in partnership with then NFL commissioner Tagliabue.
Something about Upshaw incensed players. They elected Washington, DC, lawyer (and Redskins fan) DeMaurice Smith as the union’s executive director when Upshaw died. Smith is the anti-Upshaw who relates to the players as clients to be represented before the owners more than as a labor leader working with the commissioner to bake a bigger pie to slice. That’s my working suspicion, anyhow.
Both Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are in their first season as labor negotiators. This game is going to overtime. Both Smith and Goodell are in place because dealing with the feds is as important as dealing with each other.
You’d think Congress is too busy to get involved in this. But no committee chair can resist the attention that comes with football. Talking football is easy and posturing is fun. Replacing job-sucking health care with job-sucking tax cuts is hard. Mark my words. By April or May, the commish and the labor leader will be called to Capitol Hill for Congressional hearings where everybody, mostly politicians, will pose more than fix the problem.
Robert Lenzner’s story at Forbes.com (Numbers Show NFL’s ‘Economic Realities’ For Lockout Unwarranted) leaves me wondering how hard team owners will push this thing. Lenzner pokes holes in Goodell’s contention that everyone must make “tough choices” for the good of the game. The owners want a bigger slice off the top of the $9 billion revenue stream before sharing the cookies with the players.
Florio’s story hints that the owners are taking that hard line because they never resolved their dispute over large market and small market revenue sharing of the local income-streams that enrich guys like Daniel Snyder, Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft. The owners won’t have to settle that problem if they can force the players back to the pre-2006 agreement.
Upshaw predicted that the owners would opt out of the labor deal. He threatened that, if the league reached an uncapped year, the union would never return to a salary cap. I don’t know how that impacts teams, but now my head hurts. I’m not ready for this. I’m ready for some football. I’m in denial about a lockout.