Could The NFL Lockout Be Lifted Next Week?
We hope so because, quite frankly, there are no podiums in football. Over the past few months we’ve seen more politicking, grandstanding, lecturing, and negotiating in the NFL than we have in our national government even though we’re dangerously close to a debt ceiling (that’s a sin and a shame, but we’ll save it for a later post).
Over the course of this week, these guys have made quite a few strides to get away from the pulpit and back to the pigskin. One really big move: the owners and players have agreed the players will have another full season of unrestricted free agency, omitting the right-of-first-refusal from the fray.
What’s the right-of-first-refusal rule? Good question. It is a long and awkwardly punctuated way to say the owners have a right to retain their free agents by matching offers made to them by other teams. Example: Generic Wide Receiver has come to the end of his contract with the Washington Redskins and decides he agrees with T.O. as far as Donovan McNabb is concerned. Another team makes him an offer for that change-your-name money (shouts out to Ochocinco and Metta World Peace). If the Redskins match the offer, they keep Generic Wide Receiver, no questions asked.
The players weren’t going for it, and the owners have finally relented. At the end of the lockout (whenever that will be), the teams will have 72 hours to re-sign their free agents. After that, they are unrestricted and can be signed by anyone (and hopefully the city of Cleveland will be more understanding when it comes to football). Score one for…those who actually do all the scoring, anyway.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s on to the issues that remain. There are still a few, and the last battle lines have yet to be drawn, but both sides have actually done some compromising and light is showing at the end of the tunnel. Not only that, but these greedy MFs folks actually seem to believe they can get it done!
In fact, NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith said that while the lawyers will stay behind, he and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will work on the agreement this weekend, possibly face-to-face. Leaving the lawyers behind is quite a bold and powerful move, as it typically means principles will come before language and loopholes.
But wait, there’s more!
The NFL sent all of its teams a memo on Friday saying an agreement was currently being worked on and details would be released in a debriefing next Thursday in Atlanta. No league business is expected to be carried out before this meeting. Salary cap, rookie pay system, and free agency were all hot-button issues in the debate between those who runneth and those who signeth the check—and now they are all resolved. We won’t get too far ahead of ourselves, but things are certainly looking up and if both sides can continue to have an attitude of cooperation,when the dust clears, we should have ourselves a full NFL season.
Even more importantly, if these two diametrically-opposed sides can reach an agreement, it could mean there’s hope for the NBA and its lockout, as well as the USA and our national debt.