To paraphrase Jim Mora, the elder, "Lockout? Lockout? I don't want to talk about lockout. I just want to see a game."
I'm in denial at the prospect of a cancelled 2011 pro football season. Not going to happen. No way. No how.
All we need to know is that the NFL Sunday Night Football was the No. 1 show on television and that the NFL is closing in on a deal with ESPN that will pay them $2 Billion (that's with a "B") per year for Monday Night Football into the 2020s.
Nobody is going to screw that up by losing the entire season.
That new ESPN deal alone could boost the Washington Redskins revenue by 10 percent, without the 'Skins improving by a single game or selling an extra Club Seat package. Besides, labor strife is good for the Redskins. Washington won two Super Bowls in years with short seasons.
Labor strife is the missing ingredient in Redskins championship runs.
All this talk is just posturing by both sides
Strike? Nope. The NFL Players Association isn't talking strike. They just don't want to give back benefits already agreed to by the owners as if pro football was the auto industry.
It's the owners who are pushing the labor lockout. They don't want to begin the new NFL calendar unless the two sides extend the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) under the owner's terms.
That's the position the owners should have taken in 2006 when they extended the CBA. Instead, they waged a civil war between big market and small market teams over revenue sharing...that's still going on, by the way.
The players threaten to decertify as a union in the event of a lockout. That makes that any coordinated action by the owners to control players' contracts illegal under federal law. Big market owners would be free to sweep up all of the top talent without restraint. The league would tilt towards the NFC East and AFC East, its wealthiest teams. Imagine Daniel Snyder unleashed. Bad for the league. Good for the Redskins.
Don't mess with the Feds
You saw what the Feds did to Michael Vick. The NFL isn't like Major League Baseball. MLB is a legal monopoly mandated by Congress in a past century when baseball embodied red-blooded American values.
Baseball isn't as American as, um, apple pie these days. Most baseball players seemingly come from the Dominican Republic with names like Soriano, Alou and Pujols. Baseball fields in my neighborhood are used for soccer more than baseball. Mary McGrory put it best when she said, "Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become."
The owners will not escape adverse court rulings against monopolistic practices if the union decertifies, even though the sitting Attorney General of the United States is the former outside counsel of the NFL. We fans don't want the player's union to decertify. Union certification is a check on football stupidity.
Like the time when Maurice Clarett fancied himself the football version of LeBron James and wanted to declare himself ready for pro football, at age 19, after he was tossed off the Ohio State football team. He sued the NFL enter the 2002 Draft when labor rules prevented him. He won at trial, but lost on appeal in a ruling by U.S. Appeals Court judge Sonia Sotomayer who figured that the NFL could set eligibility rules because of the existing contract with the players.
That ruling was widely applauded by football fans. I'm sure that was the single most important reason why Sotomayer was named to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Clarett distinguished himself in the 2005 NFL Combine with a 4.72 40, a time your momma could beat. He persuaded Mike Shanahan to spend a draft pick on him when no other team would have done so. Shanahan signed Clarett to a four-year contract, and then released him when Clarett--as expected by everyone but Shanahan--displayed the same behaviors that got him fired from the Buckeyes. (I say "fired" because I no longer believe that BCS football is an amateur sport. Why doesn't the NFLPA expand to the BCS?)
I'm sure Shanahan has learned from his Clarett misadventure and will no longer waste draft picks on players nobody else wants. But, I digress.
You know more about this than you think
Lockouts and decertification are boring topics that are entirely too close to the everyday issues we escape through sports entertainment. But there is no difference between building winning teams and building a cohesive work unit that achieves goals and wins business. Football teams are much closer to your place of work than you may think. Pro teams are much closer to the U.S. Marine Corps than you may think.
Business and the Marines need stars, but they need the kind of stars who excel in their roles that make the team better. It hurts more than helps to swap out stars after every setback. Adversity is how teams become a band of brothers. You don't get that effect when you swap out brothers every other season.
Leaders, whether from the locker room barracks, or from the front officer's clubs, have to keep eyes on the purpose and move toward it. In pro football, that purpose is to reflect the strength of America so Americans fork over indecent sums of money and feel good about what we have beome.
The owners and players can bicker all they want up until training camp. If there's a 12 game season, I'm booking tickets to Indy because the 'Skins will be in Super Bowl Ex-El-Vee-Eye. But don't ask me about lockouts. I just want to see a game.
Point after: Only one reference to Daniel Snyder was harmed in crafting this story.
The Wall Street Journal - Will The Lights Go Out in the NFL?