Much to the chagrin of Dan Snyder's sock puppet, Tony Kornheiser, Colts owner Jim Irsay has been very chatty about the owner imposed lockout and NFL labor impasse that has been the norm for 65-plus days. Last week, Jim stated he could solve all the labor problems over drinks with Colts NFLPA* rep Jeff Saturday. The issues were so simple to fix, according to Irsay, that things could get written out 'on a cocktail napkin.'
This little bit of insider owner knowledge had schmucks like me asking, Well, if it's so simple, why isn't is solved yet? And the answer is certain owners wanted this lockout. They want games missed. They want players to lose game checks and feel the pressure.
They want to break. the. union.
They also know that once the union is broken and football resumes, many fans will come back to the game and fill NFL stadiums. Sure, they'll isolate some fans, but no matter. They'll have their additional billion bucks from the players, and that money more than makes up for any angry fans who have left the NFL for other sports.
To the owners, we're mindless sheep, folks. And to their credit, we haven't done much to prove otherwise.
But, despite this, I honestly think that Irsay is not down with what other owners are forcing. All it takes is nine owners to, essentially, control the course of action. Nine owners can veto any proposed CBA. I don't think Irsay is one of those nine. In fact, his most recent comments suggest to me that Irsay is fracturing away from the owner talking points.
"There’s a window where we can get something done," Irsay told the Indianapolis Star, "but we really need to get something done by the Fourth of July or thereabouts so we can get in and have training camp and preseason and get ready that way. There has to be some real urgency to get this thing resolved and really have a full season with a training camp and preseason games. It would be very unfortunate if we get a deal done Oct. 1 that we could have gotten done on July 10. The losses are great if we start missing preseason games and early [regular-season] games."
I've said this many times, and I'll continue to say it: If the lockout forces the NFL to lose preseason games, let alone regular season games, the NFL will be D.O.A. for 2011 and beyond. It will lose millions of interested fans, including the viewers it covets for TV.
The quality of play has already been affected with the loss of OTAs, activities essential to develop rookies and new players on a roster. This means that, to start 2011 (if it ever starts) the product we fans will be get will be inferior to the one we got last year this time. Yet, I doubt the NFL to drop ticket prices.
Again, to them we're sheep.
Like Irsay, I too feel that if a new CBA is not reached by July 4th, or somewhere close to that date, the NFL as we know it will cease to exist. Already, I now several fans who are so disgusted with this display of cynical greed that they simply cannot be part of the NFL anymore. We already know that the NFL Draft had 1.3 million fewer viewers this year than last. That's the lockout effect, folks.
Expect that number to spike significantly if preseason and regular season games are missed.