So, this past week we had owners and player reps meeting in secret, sans lawyers. Next week, because these sessions apparently went so well, the scheduled 'mediation' between the owners and players was canceled. On Friday, the lawyers were busy arguing with each other in St. Louis, and after the talking was done, the judges told the lawyers to go back to their clients and convince them to negotiate. If not, the outcome of Brady v. NFL could be, in Judge Bye's own words, 'something both sides are not going to like.'
Thus, we start getting reports that the owners, when they met with the players on Wednesday and Thursday, started making concessions. No one knows for sure what those concessions were, but CBS Sports' Mike Freeman has an idea:
No one will say exactly what the concessions are but significant ones have been made and the players believe they are genuine. My highly educated guess: one of them is the owners continuing to come down significantly from their original demand of taking another $1 billion off the top of player earnings. The players always believed this was an outrageous demand and the players were right.
Yes, they were right, and that silly demand by nitwits like Jerry Richardson is exactly the reason why this lockout has taken place. Ownership cannot seriously expect labor to just hand them $1 billion while, at the same time, getting caught doing a shady, backdoor business deal with TV execs.
However, if the owners have come down from that demand, and if the players are making concessions of their own (rookie wage scale, money for retired players, maybe a seventeen game season), then we have the makings of real negotiating.
Again, as Jim Irsay stated a few weeks ago, a deal needs to be made by July 4th. After that, we're looking into missing preseason and regular season games. If those games are lost due to this silliness, football dies.
I was talking last night with Jason Brewer of Bleeding Green Nation, and we both agreed that if a deal is indeed stuck and finalized at or before July 4th, it might just be the best thing to happen to football and could make the 2011 season one fans will never forget... in a good way, of course.
Let's say a deal is done by Friday, July 1st. What this would then mean is that from July-February, we fans would have nothing but non-stop, wall-to-wall, peddle-to-the-metal football news action. Instead of getting our normal summer football fix in small doses from May-July, we'd get everything literally ALL AT ONCE!
Again, deal gets struck (please, please, pretty please) on July 1st. Lockout is lifted and players can return to team facilities.
- From July 1st-July 5th, the NFL would need to begin implementing the agreed upon rules for free agency and, possibly, the rookie wage scale. Likely, free agency would begin July 5th, and oh brother would it be a buying frenzy! These signings wouldn't just be for the Nnamdi Asomugha-type players out there, but for free agent rookies as well.
- There would signings for drafted players, and pretty much almost immediately after these people get signed, teams will start implementing rookie camps and semi-OTA-type practices. Basically, they get signed, and someone shoves a playbook in their face and says, 'Start learning.'
- There would also be trades, with the first likely being the Eagles Kevin Kolb getting sent to the Cardinals.
Mind you, all this would be happening in the span of just three weeks, because once July 25th rolls around, training camps are starting to open. Once camp opens, there's even more activity. Players just signed a week or so before are showing up, and for the first time in a long while, training camp will be used to get many of these guys into shape. Camp will also be where the teams install their offensive and defensive packages for 2011 because, again, regular OTAs and mini-camps were killed by the lockout.
After two or three weeks of camp, we're in preseason, and before you know it the regular season has started.
We're talking a whirlwind of activity from July-September, and the from September-February, it's games, games, and more games. During this time, you can bet all the negativity from fans regarding the lockout will melt away. We'll all be too busy (and giddy with excitement) keeping up with all the real football news.
All will be forgiven. All will be forgotten.
Again, this is contingent on a deal getting done now. Not after July 4th. Not in August. Now! I get the sense the owners have realized this, and that is why they started making concessions. Per usual, we will have to wait and see.