Is the 2011 NFL Season Now in Danger?

That is the big question after yesterday's court hearing resolved nothing. The judge may take a couple weeks to issue her decision but  no matter which way she goes this thing will for certain drag out well into the summer. Both parties plan to appeal and regardless of which side appeals the court that will handle the appeal is backed up until the June or July.

Should Nelson rule in favor of the players, the owners would appeal. Should they lose that appeal, the lockout would theoretically end and the players would go back to work, attending minicamps and off-season workouts as they normally would this time of year. Should Nelson rule in favor of the owners, the players would appeal. Should they lose that appeal, the lockout would remain in place indefinitely.

Even if the Owners lose their appeal it would only force the sides back to the negotiating table, maybe. The owners want and need a CBA so even if they lose the appeal I don't see them suddenly signing free agents with no CBA to serve as a contractual guideline. They are also waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to rule on their claim of the NFLPA decert being a sham. I'm not sure what it would really mean if they win that ruling, if anything.

It could still take weeks to resolve anything provided they both finally start bargaining in good faith...and there is the key words, bargaining in good faith, which neither side has done as of yet. 

So in my humble opinion the answer is a resounding YES! The 2011 NFL season is in real danger. 

More after the jump...

We the fans are sticking to this false notion that cooler heads will prevail and certainly they won't risk their reputation. Try again...we know straight from JRs mouth the owners are resolved to get a bigger piece of the pie and they are executing their two year plan on schedule. If you think it will be the players that cave you might consider that position again. In a recent interview with Saints CB Malcolm Jenkins:

Jenkins: "From a financial standpoint, nobody is really hurting right now because most guys usually don’t get paid during the offseason. From a players standpoint we really won’t start feeling things until September comes around and we start going without game checks and of course there are going to be some guys that haven’t spent their money correctly over the last couple of years and those first couple checks are going to be big for them, but we’ve known about this lockout thing for a couple of years now and guys have made steps to prepare. Even I have missed out on a workout bonus already for like 350,000 thousand dollars. That’s part of the business. I’d rather put that aside now then to lose what we’re fighting for in the long run."

So the players are ready for this to affect the 2011 season in order to make sure they get a good long term deal. The notion they will cave this summer is misguided since most plan for no or little pay over the summer anyway. They won't start to get antsy until they start missing game checks in September. 

The only hope for the 2011 season to execute as normally planned is for the sides to reach a quick agreement on a CBA after the owners lose their appeal The owners will have lost some leverage and might be willing to meet in the middle now but might also the players with their new found leverage instead start to play hardball? I can easily see that happening. 

As much as it pains me to say it Panther fans the 2011 is in real danger right now and I don't see a realistic path for the offseason, much less the regular season to resume as normal any time soon. Both sides appear resolved to fight this in court to the end. We better get used to the notion of no football in September or even longer.

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