Jim Trotter at SI says that the NFLPA had acquired insurance for the players in the event that the 2011 season was lost. It appears now this information was revealed to the owners on Thursday morning and might had an impact on negotiations.
Was that the shove in the back that moved the sides closer to a potential agreement? Only the owners know for sure, but a source close to one of them said the disclosure definitely got that side's attention. Perhaps for good reason.
The common perception has been that the players' solidarity would crumble once they started missing paychecks. However the foundation beneath that line of thinking would be as solid as Jell-O if the players could couple the insurance with a large financial award from U.S. District Judge David Doty, who previously ruled the owners had illegally created a $4.3 billion lockout fund for themselves by renegotiating their TV deals at the expense of the players.
"Players Association leadership looked into this as a last possible resort to keep players together in case games would be missed," one players-side source said of the insurance war chest. "It was never intended to be used as a bargaining chip or negotiating point until things became critical."
Mike Freeman of CBS also commented on the story and it is fair to say that he was shocked by this revelation.
By playing this card, the players, at the last minute, outmaneuvered the owners. I'm told it completely stunned ownership.
Wow. Just wow, This is the second biggest piece of news to only the fact a deal is all but done. This was the players saying "checkmate."