and there was much rejoicing.
I was so perplexed by the lack of progress and JRs gloomy outlook, I decided to do some research. At first, I could only find rhetoric filled interviews with Goodell, Smith, and their lawyers -- each saying the other side isn't serious about negotiating. WHY? Read on, football fans...
Then I found this gem of an article written last March by Wm. David Cornwell, Sr., President of the sports law firm, DNK Cornwell. I encourage you to read it. It isn't long and surprisingly isn't filled with lawyer-speak. It does, however, explain what is actually going on under the covers.
Essentially, the NFL will declare an "impasse" on or around March 4th, allowing them to unilaterally impose the most equitable deal they've come up with. It has to be able to mostly hold up to legal scrutiny, because the players will de-certify the union and file anti-trust suits. Litigation will likely last years, but the game will go on.
It's all happened before, back in '87 when Upshaw was the union rep. Eventually, in '93 an agreement was reached that has provided the framework for all subsequent CBAs. Back then, the issues pertained primarily to free agency and the draft, which one could say were more far-reaching in their effect on the game than the current issues.
I certainly hope Mr. Cornwell is right. And I believe he is, because everything that has happened since then would finally make sense. It would explain why the union is now desperately trying to get Congress involved, though wiith little success thus far. And it explains why the players have already voted to decertify the union on March 4th (unanimously, I think).
The union does have one other card to play. Last summer, for the first time, the NFL lost an anti-trust lawsuit brought by a hat manufacturer over merchandising rights. The court ruled that the NFL was not a single entity, rather it was 32 independent businesses. However, the court also stated that it's findings should not be considered relevant in Labor disputes.
This is all great news for us, the fans. It looks like the lockout threat is just a bluff designed to reach a deal without having to spend years in litigation. It also means that there will be football in 2011, UNLESS the players vote to strike, which isn't likely.
Stay tuned, because on March 4th much will be revealed. And keep your fingers crossed.