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We’ve had some developments in the lockout case, nothing too ground breaking however.

And seeing as how we’re not going to rank helmet logos *cough cough* ESPN *cough cough*, we’ll talk a bit about what this means.

I’m sure you’ve already read a lot about what this means, but from a fans perspective its actually probably good news. I still haven’t picked a side in this fight, but I’ve been leaning towards the owners. Not because I agree with them, but because I think the only way we’re going to get football back on time (or even *gasp* early?!) is for the owners to gain some leverage.

Once the players decertified, it was apparent that they had all the power. If the league was functioning during a lockout, as would’ve been their case, they would have had no reason to bend to the owners wishes. This would’ve resulted in only a couple of options.

1. A season in which the owners and players operated under former rules while they continued to ‘negotiate’. Most likely this would’ve resulted in the best deal for both sides if the players own the leverage. The players would’ve had to accept that they received a great deal before and acquiesced a bit to the owners to great a stable CBA for the future.

2. The players quickly move to strike down all the balancing functions of the league in order to demand the most money and turn themselves into baseball. The result would have likely resulted in the NFL shutting down completely because most (I think…) owners don’t want to end up where Baseball is now.

I list both of those options because they’re still very much on the table, but with the Owners winning some legal skirmishes, they’ve got the players on their heels. Now the owners are pushing to get back to the table because they, and the players, know that because the stay has been granted and the courts are likely to side with the owners in the actual trial. This is a good thing because it means that there can be some negotiations and a small possibility that this will get settled out side of courts.

That’s not to say that there are not perils here. As many media members have pointed out, the best case here is a deal that both sides give a little and gain a lot. That’s not what happened before and is the direct cause of the situation the NFL is in now. The problem is, the owners are clearly pissed about missing out on so much money since the last deal was reached. Which in turn means that the owners could be looking to really hammer it into the players once they have all the power. The likely result of which is another CBA fight within 5 to 10 years.

That’s not a functioning organization. These two groups are partners in this game, and frankly, despite their unprecedented popularity, have a lot to lose. I don’t expect fans to turn off the NFL if they get back to it sometime in this year , but imagine if we’re doing this again in 5 years with a player strike. Now imagine that the NBA fixes a lot of their financial problems during their coming labor situation. Or hockey continues to load superstars on the ice and feature compelling match-ups in the playoffs. There’s no guarantee that fans won’t find their sports fix elsewhere, with a more stable situation.

Sadly, I don’t see this labor fight ending in a mutually beneficial agreement, simply based upon either sides actions the minute they gain the leverage. The players win a repeal of the lockout and immediately talk of removing the draft and various other competitive balances. The owners win a stay and start pushing for their original CBA proposal. There simply are too many people letting emotions run these discussions. As so many mobsters have said, “it’s not good business,” and sadly I think they’ll all be learning that in the end.

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