Will Leverage Help Speed Negotiations?


Imagine one day waking up and pouring your coffee, sitting down to your computer or iPad or whatever, clicking on our site and reading the headline, “Deal Done!” and know immediately that football will be up and running again the same way it was two years ago.  Free agency will be set to start and we can all get back to talking about the Miami Dolphins and slamming the failing autobiography of one Rex Ryan. Imagine that.

Then of course reality sets in and we realize that won’t likely happen for awhile.

As it is known, I support the owners in this labor mess so it came as a pleasing development last night when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor keeping the lockout in place for the time being and as some have pointed out possibly tipping their hands towards a June 3rd”ish” permanent ruling on the lockout in favor of the owners.  I have said all along that is my belief that the players reps will be more willing to negotiate a new CBA which is needed more than a litigation settlement if the advantage was leaning towards the owners.  Simply put, the owners can hold out longer.

Without getting into too much detail, the ruling today made reference to the league having enough of a case to prove that they are legally right in conducting the lockout.  While today was simply an allowance of the “stay” request, wording in the ruling says the league may in fact have shown enough to win the appeal thus wiping out Judge Susan Nelsons’ ruling back in March.

I want to make this clear, while I do not support the “players” as it is, I don’t blame the players themselves only those they chose to represent them and the manner in which they have conducted themselves publicly and from what I have heard privately.  My ire is more directed at Jeffrey Kessler and DeMaurice Smith and Drew Brees than any of the other 1899 professional football players who are not listed on the court documents.  All things being equal, it’s time now for the league to stand up and get a deal done now rather than wait for the appeals court to rule in their favor.

The league now has some momentum, they have something on their side that for the last 3 months belonged to the players.  Leverage.  But now is not the time to use it to wield a large sword and start throwing out CBA ideas that swing to their side of the fence.  Now is the time for them to stand up and take their league back and offer the players favorable incentives and keep the chains moving forward from year to year.

The owners may have the leverage for now, and they may have more of it in three weeks, but acting like responsible owners of billion dollar franchises instead of schoolyard bully tactics will go a lot further in winning the support of the fans, the players, and employees of the teams who are either out of a job or suffering from large scale downs to their salaries.

The owners have the upper hand and it may be brief.  But using it responsibly to get a deal done makes the most sense for everyone.  While I support the owners in this labor mess, it would become increasingly difficult to hold that stance if they suddenly developed a DeMaurice ego trip.  And for the record, the positive reports that came out of the Monday mediation session was quickly retorted by members of the NFL Players litigation team.

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Tags: Lockout NFL Labor Issue NFL Lockout NFLPA