Sunday, June 26, 2011

NFL Labor Talks Are a Work In Progress

We may be reaching the point where players have actually been briefed on lockout discussions. Because it's slightly shocking, considering it is the fourth month since the ugliness has turned chaotic and hopeless, if not conceivable, there are folks shortsighted by the latest news of players being updated on the lockout status.

But in this case of oblivious folks, imploring for an NFL season next fall as the people in America are paranoid and have deeply worshipped the sport, it's sensible to fathom that football is the symbol of the one nation with a crazed for a hallowed event. Until all of this is resolved, even with a sign of relief after the executive director of NFLPA DeMaurice Smith spoke to players this past week on the current labor developments, then we can find solace in a nation where the population is already captivated with the game's place.

In all of this, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has fallen from grace to dismantle an image in tatters, once lacking care and responsibility for protecting the richest enterprise in sports. He has this egotistic, selfish demeanor about him that gave us a sense of belief as of which he was more focused on protecting his legacy, not the game everybody is enthusiastic in watching annually each season. Each time, he surely was in denial and couldn't handle the truth, as the NFL gradually toppled.

Even though in all honesty, as someone who is stubborn-minded just as much as he used to be unforbearing and demanding in a sense that he constituted a tougher, personal conduct policy to discipline players for their poor judgment, Goodell has not been aggressive in putting an end to the labor disputes. The theory has been utterly perplexing, but what has been a work in progress, is the pleasant vision for reviving the NFL of Smith's effort to speak to players.

The assumption is that by offering promise, although he never offered details or a timetable and seemed vague in the midst of the uncertainty lingering, a deal could be two or three weeks away on getting a new collective bargaining agreement. Whether the consensus of the two parties is finally gathering an understanding to slowly put an untidy rift to rest, it still remains uncertain if the lockout is truly over or not.

The hurried goad is that by making progress, communicating maturely and paying dividends when the two parties were fussing over money from maybe the burden of an impaired recession, a reaction of compromising could save the league from a long-suffering standoff, leading to an NFL season and no further tumult. Much of this happened because of stupidity and greed, much of this happened because of selfishness and egotism and much of this happened because the NFL allowed it.

"We're definitely optimistic we're moving in the right direction," Buffalo player George Wilson told the Associated Press. "Right now we feel like we're having meaningful discussions. ... We feel we have the right people in the room, discussing the right things and both sides want to get a deal done. But even though we're moving in the right direction, we're not there yet."

No, you're not there yet.

What's more staggering is when New England owner Robert Craft, a businessman who never agreed with a few proposals and worried about the economy paralyzing, is that he actually is optimistic and even acknowledged the recent progress. That could be, however, an indicator for restoration within the richest sporting league in existence. It's a fact as if the NFL is ready to plot the framework of a deal, which could be finalized very, very soon.

But if this deal has any chance of getting done, owners would have to compromise by allowing players to earn 48 percent of all revenue, according to reports. Furthermore, they've never received less than 50 percent, and requested for 50 percent of revenues in this latest deal. It's so true, from our understanding, that this is the threshold of a turning point financially in 100 days amidst a grisly lockout, as heavy talks are occurring more frequently and aggressively, aiming to give the fans football by next fall.

The reality was that many of the owners had been at the 42- and 44-percent level for much of the lockout, not too sure what the future had in store for a league in bedlam. And finally, Goodell and the owners accepted the players' plea. The players aren't settling for a percentage lower than 48 percent to force the players in taking $4.7 billion this year.

If so, it would be less than what players earned in salaries and benefits, dating back to 2009, but the players are content to accept a smaller percentage and potentially a $120 million salary cap. The doomsday of troubles, overwhelmingly impossible as the two sides are close to completing a deal to halt all the noise heard for months, could easily cripple an entire season if a deal isn't official by no later than August.

And if that were to happen, preseason football is ravaged definitely, if not much of the 16-game season, but the dedication from owners and the communication to players have more folks hopeful of an NFL season next fall. But as the lockout descends, after players weren't reluctant to accept a lower percentage in future years, presumably as low at 46.5 percent, we can quickly foresee a season that looms. It's also worth noting that Smith has trust in Goodell, for once at the helm of such a tough position.

Not much, in the meantime, has been said from the 8th circuit, ruling over the lockout case, or even the court of Judge David Doty. It's rational to realize that the NFL isn't so stupid and foolish enough to lose out on money, and it's unlikely to withstand a lockout much longer when revenue seems to be the top priority.

In any event, after many fans are disgusted and distraught of the overcome of late, players, owners and the league is trying to reach the point where it loses on revenue and fan loyalty, as the supporters can threaten the game's popularity with all the resentment and bitterness.

"Look, someone asked me whether I was optimistic," Smith said. "I think we're both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we're talking about the right issues and that we're working hard to get it done."

That means something good is bound, right?