The End Of The Lockout:

Steve O Speak

Now it appears that all major sources are reporting that the lockout is over, and football will commence this week. After months of in-fighting and he said, she said, it appears to be all over. According to reports any votes this week are a formality as both sides are in complete agreement. While both sides lost money in this deal, both sides won in the end.

The Players got the benefits and insurance for their retired and injured players. They kept free agency under the same principal rules (from the old agreement), and received major concessions in workout structure. They got all of that while eliminating the desire for an 18 game schedule and transparency in the revenue sharing. Not a bad deal considering they lost their court case, and dragged this into the summer.

The Owners reduced the rampant salary inflation (basically set the clock back to 2009), and got a larger percentage of the pie. They also got more cost control and certainty among rookie contracts, and essentially took that money and gave it too the veterans and retirees. The Owners also got more salary cap flexibility and a 10 year agreement with no opt out. That kinda stability should allow the league to grow substantially in the next decade (which of course benefits the players as well). The Owners also will get the players to reorganize as a Union and stop these lawsuit attacks.

Overall, and I realize I’m probably in the minority on this, but I think major credit should go to the Owners for the way they handled this. I know that many people will want to side with the players and their ‘plight’, but the reality is the players are the biggest reason that this lockout lasted 4 months. The Owners might have started the process, but it was the players who turned this into a protracted court battle. A lawsuit that if won, could have eliminated all rules and restrictions regarding player acquisition, which would have been a death blow to multiple franchises (note to to the Players, you just had a Super Bowl between the Packers and the Steelers, two iconic teams, but in poor markets that couldn’t survive without the protection of the salary cap and draft).  While the NFL was reducing the top salaries of their employees, such as Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash (who both reduced their salary to $1), the Players top lawyers and DeMaurice Smith were raking in the millions. It was the NFL that conceded their top discussion point, the 18-game schedule, as a necessity in the deal back in March, while the Players have fought tooth and nail on every little point.  It was the Owners who finally stopped this madness and forced a vote, instead of kowtowing to the Players sensibilities any longer. And Finally it was the League that refused to go for the coup de grace despite coming out ahead in the courts. They could have continued to force matters and basically force the players to whatever terms they dictated if they were willing to lose a season. Instead they were magnanimous and conceded on a number of the players issues to get an agreement in place. And they guaranteed a salary cap this year, despite all the lost offseason revenues and the lost Hall of Fame Preseason game.

While the sides both won the financial aspect, the reality is the NFL showed themselves to be the more sound organization and did more to ensure their fans wouldn’t lose a season. There is no doubt they have a financial motive as well, but their play it safe approach means there will be football this fall, and for that I’m thankful.

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