Friday, July 29, 2011

Belichick Welcomes in Ochocinco, Haynesworth, Proves to Be Genius

There's a part of me that worries about the state of mind of a flamboyant and bombastic loudmouth in the league, or even a part of me that wishes the New England Patriots the best. The funny thing is, if not a risk for an accomplished franchise filled with much mystique and prosperity from its most flourished era that defined one of the most exceptional dynasties in sports, Bill Belichick is an expert in grooming his players, particularly renegade stars of much rebellion.

Even though arrogance, egotism and fraud of Spygate described Belichick to be a con artist since he bamboozled the rules of America's famous game with all his fraudulent ploys on the field every Sunday, he can mold rebellious players into elite NFL stars. The Patriots are notorious for bringing in troubled players to overhaul a Super Bowl-caliber force, rising back into contention of all the immediate revamping.

It's not hard to believe, given Belichick's history to build a contender from temperamental talent allowing the Patriots to regain Super Bowl worthiness, that New England has traded for star wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and defiant defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. It is, seemingly, a remedy to restore faith, even though Bill Belichick said on Friday morning that the two trades haven't been finalized.

“We are in the process of working through the trades with Albert and Chad. They still haven’t officially been completed yet so there isn’t really anything I can comment with them,” Belichick said Friday morning. “We’re working through the process and when it’s complete – if it’s complete – we can talk about it then.”

It's a reasonably optimistic route down the right path to acquire Ochocinco from the Cincinnati Bengals, though he has spent much of his controversial career blabbering to seek attention, to be highly regarded and, well, to become notably a worldwide athlete. So if the Patriots ever pondered on this risk that could tremendously be an antidote, and perhaps, form another dynasty unlike any other, it's imperative to realize that this is a short-term fix as New England is ready to hoist another Lombardi Trophy after next season.

It also means the addition of a brash or loudmouth wideout could kill the morale and divide a team of much chemistry and unity, based on Belichick's words of advice and being a consultant to his players. But this has been a problem for so long that no other franchise trust in Ochocinco, on edge inevitably as the Pro Bowl star is hated by many or maybe even misconceived for all the smack-talk, for all the sheepheaded antics and touchdown celebrations.

We saw a trade coming, and we were shortsighted, selling the Patriots short of pulling off an unexpected deal no one ever imagined. It's hard to discount every reaction of Belichick's masterminded gimmicks, clearly in attempt of his latest renovation to escape the futility and newfound vulnerability as the Patriots were under siege. For a while, New England wasn't as confident, as fierce or even as flawless, and with the acquisition of Ochocinco and even Fat Albert, the Patriots could easily transform into a championship-contender to largely be a dynamic force in the competitive AFC East.

“As it relates to Albert and Chad, any comments on them would just be premature,” Belichick said. “We’re in the process of it, no doubt about it. It’s not official, they’re not officially on our team and until they are, I just don’t think it’s appropriate to really talk about it as if they are because they’re not.”

As is evidenced by his sophisticated trend of developing the Patriots, Belichick has had the perfect veterans to fittingly blend in well of his demanding style in the past seasons. These are adjustments, mind you, that we are accustomed to witnessing every offseason by an elite franchise with an intellectual head coach in this organization assembling a talented cast of players. He is so much of a genius, in fact, that he has selected wisely during each NFL draft, has pulled off the risky, gut-wrenching moves and has won in each and every single trade deal.

At the most, he's won these deals as well, a pair of trades that were reported on Thursday, the first day of Patriots training camp. His intent is to resuscitate what is the longest championship drought that the Patriots lacked for much of the second decade of the 21st century to complete another chapter in New England's history books, if possible, addressing two of his team's greatest deficiencies at a minimal cost of surrendering a 2012 fifth-round pick and a 2013 fifth and sixth round selection.

As for Ochocinco, he'll always be known most around the league for his colorful, out-of-this-world antics and trash-talk, including the moment when he was a famous personality on "Dancing With the Stars," where he appeared with a hot female dancer, where he showed his skilled dance motions nationally. It seems that he has always been a daring, courageous individual of his flamboyant career, riding a bull for 1.5 seconds at a professional bull rider's event not too long ago. In fact, he tried to race a thoroughbred on one occasion and won the race, when he was given a head start.

In the midst of his silliness and buffoonish nonsense at times, he appeared in reality shows, talk shows and even showed his face publicly online, but his biggest problem is Twitter where he practically spends much of his time posting messages with almost 30,000 tweets. The clowning behavior of one of the talented receivers in the league only represents trouble. And then again, it could represent evolution in the Patriots culture, only if Ochocinco avoids performing touchdown celebrations or putting on a Hall of Fame frolic by wearing a mustard jacket that reads on the back "Future H.o.F 20??"

With this, Belichick has done well in finding Tom Brady's target at the wide receiver core this season, but Ochocinco would have to refrain from the playfulness and be serious in the way he approach the game every Sunday. The move puts the burden on players, but more than ever, it places the pressure on Belichick, built strongly to bounce back from a stunning 28-21 playoff loss last season.

The rationale for such a huge gamble on a player with a lot of baggage is that Belichick could have relatively passed on Ochocinco, perhaps for the sake of the Patriots and their cordial bond. The empty feeling Ochocinco may have in his heart has probably vanished this week, a sense of relief that comes from the drastic change in his professional career, released from the submerging Bengals in Cincinnati to fortunately contend in New England for a championship, courtesy of Beligenius, who has been a genius of cultivation within one franchise.

It's an especially larger market and a much demanding franchise, which is all the more reason Ochocinco needs to exclude the Twitter feed, to focus on football and prove to be one of the best wide receivers in the league and stand as a stellar wideout and dependable veteran. His mere presence in New England, along with his talent of presumably reeling in a historic total of catches, brings in confidence and probably improvise the deepest roster in the AFC East.

It was a sensible move, driven by Belichick's eagerness to build a winnable team and sharpen the installment of returning to prominence. This has pleased Ochocinco, once discontent in a Bengals uniform, now finally have a greater shot to revel in happiness. If he adjusts his ego and attitude, to become well-driven aiming for the better and has a more proficient work ethic, Ochocinco would be the town's exulted icon.

He wasn't brought to New England to be a prima donna or a drama queen, but was welcomed to contribute within the high-powered offense. The window for the Patriots is closing, but with the exception of Ochocinco, a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, the window may have just gotten wider. There are immense expectations for Haynesworth, one of the biggest free-agent busts in NFL history, after he was given a seven-year, $100-million deal with a then-record $41 million guaranteed at Washington.

The hefty defensive tackle, a lazy player of Redskins Circus where he was a no-show, couldn't pass a conditioning test and pouted about playing nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, is capable of being a sturdy defender on the field. There's much Haynesworth, 30, has done wrong in his life, getting sued by a bank, or even when a woman claimed he impregnated her and he is currently accused of sexual assault. The good thing is, Ochocinco has never been in legal troubles, but has exploded in tirades or outbursts.

However, if Belichick handled the likes of Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, then we know he can handle the mildness of Ochocinco, who had 67 catches for 831 yards and four touchdowns last season. This alone will test the relationship of Ochocinco and Belichick, and as much as they are egotistic, to sacrifice ego is imperative and everyone is probably curious to know how this relationship culminates in the end, particularly when Ochocinco is the No. 3 receiver with the Patriots, behind Wes Welker and Deion Branch.

It's clear, nonetheless, that he's a famous receiver, but now all he is missing is an NFL championship -- and finally -- he has a good shot. Much thanks to Belichick.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bad Timing, but the Firing of Butch Davis Is Right

The relationship was just a blemish for one of the up-and-coming football programs in the nation by the time the season ended in shambles at Chapel Hill. A few years ago, when North Carolina hired Butch Davis as their head football coach, the people running the institution witnessed a man with an enthusiasm, a charisma and love for football.

There was a lot of trust in Davis during his arrival in Chapel Hill, with a spotless image after protecting the identity of an elite program when he restored aspiration at a probation-saddled Miami. Not long after Davis walked onto the campus and through the door, he was welcomed in with opened arms by athletic director Dick Baddour, revered anywhere in the building, on the practice field and even on Saturday afternoons when the Tar Heels won multitudes of games.

It is close to the beginning of a fresh season and this is a rarity to fire a well-known coach late in the summer as we are nearing the fall. We knew this was coming, but we never expected Davis to be canned as training camp looms quicker than ever, and seemingly, he endured the most dangerous moments of the NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic infractions within a scummy North Carolina program. The timing couldn't be worse, although it was a shrewd decision to rid the controversial coach, for North Carolina to dismiss Davis when it could have happened much earlier.

“I know that the timing is terrible. I have been hopeful for the past year that we could work to make this right and restore confidence to the football program," North Carolina's Holden Thorp said. "Making a change of this magnitude eight days before the start of practice is disruptive, expensive and will be hard on our players. But it is the right decision."

The university, after all, has taken a drastic plunge in being the next excellent program in the Atlantic Coast Conference, stemming from the duplicity of sins with nine alleged violations involving academic fraud and superfluous benefits. The general belief of these allegations, smearing the image of convincing program filled with promise, as if someone accepted the toughest task to turn around the mediocre Tar Heels, is that Davis was aware of the academic improprieties that harmed the school's prevalence.

“This has been weighing on me for the last several weeks. I spent a lot of time consulting with a lot of people," Thorp said. I completed that consultation yesterday when I told the Trustees where I was headed."

North Carolina's chancellor, Holden Thorp, understands Davis was fairly unaware and vetoed in taking the initiative of nurturing or protecting the university's name in its entirety. Yet he earned much support for leading a team battered by sanctions, recruiting elite players, winning eight and a bowl victory, the adoration never lasted too long after the mess surfaced and the investigation became a reality. He needed to be fired for allowing the university to degenerate, but earned eulogy of trustees and the university with certainty that he'd be back for a fifth season.

It was visibly vital to North Carolina, a program with a relieved psyche since the latest dismissal, to restore the smoothest renovation that repairs the disoriented athletic department. Until now, he had seen enough, and because the university is scheduled to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions on Oct. 28 to address the issue and offer an explanation, Thorp is embarrassed as allegations are brought forth and causes too much damage.

Though he was 28-23 in four seasons in Chapel Hill, perhaps impressive, he was no longer the coach everybody wanted around. Davis succeeded, however, in his tenure that eventually turned into a poisoned assignment with all the infractions destroying his livelihood. His refusal to demand answers for all the allegations giving the school an unbearable name partly cost Davis his job on the fact he was unaware of the pending violations in Chapel Hill and it mostly now formulates a ruckus as training camp begins next week with no long-term coach.

“Let me start off by saying something to our student-athletes on the football team: You have already been through a lot this past year, and I know this is adding to that," Thorp said emotionally. "I want you to know that the university is behind you and we are totally committed to your success and to a successful program. Thank you for putting on a Carolina uniform and representing our university. We’re going to name your interim head coach soon. Dick Baddour and I are meeting with the candidates this afternoon and we will make an announcement in the next few days."

It looked like Thorp waited too late to terminate Davis, and eventually, it may come back and haunt the Tar Heels. And all of the sudden he decided that Davis was the reason of the illicit findings, though none of the allegations sent directly to the school, charting potentially major violations, found him at fault, which means North Carolina could be placed on probation, stripped of scholarships and victories for someone else's actions.

“The last year has been extraordinarily difficult for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, not only for our staff, coaches and student-athletes, but for our alumni and fans as well," Thorp said. "From the beginning, I told you we would take all accusations seriously and that we would face issues head-on. We apologized and have pledged that the athletic department at the university would be stronger as a result of the NCAA investigation."

Perhaps under these circumstances -- such as the fingers pointing of Davis who allowed the program to become a rogue in his presence after turning around the inferior program but finally deteriorated as a man once diligent enough to bring confidence to a university which was on the verge of a spiteful scandal -- he couldn't bring a national championship. He blew it and knows he blew it at North Carolina. And, in all, it was impossible to salvage his job.

Had he retained his coaching gig, it would have been a stunning development basically for being the center of a scandal that seems too overwhelming. Granted, he accepted the job to serve as a cure for a tawdry program of mediocrity -- the man in line who was anticipated to make a huge difference. In the midst of it, Davis accepts full responsibility for what occurred and even pledged to repair the damages. So was the firing premature or ideal timing? To me, it was poor timing, a point in the offseason when the season is almost upon us. This is enough to draw disruptions and cause the Tar Heels to fall out of contention early in the 2011-12 season.

"Look, you can't minimize what happened and I deeply regret that it happened on my watch. I'm the head football coach. I accept responsibility," Davis said. "My job now is to do everything I can to make sure that all of the facts get out. My job is to work with our administration to identify the problems and to make sure nothing like this happens again."

At this point, he tried to present the case to salvage his job, maybe blamed for someone else's wrongdoings. So now, he's without a job for the desecrations of his players who were suspended after violating NCAA rules -- and with the lack of reliability within himself -- ominously he could be a heavy burden if he's ever hired by another university to coach football. Earlier in the week, he had a meeting with Thorp and Baddour.

That being said, it was only a matter of time before he'd be terminated, and by Wednesday, he met with UNC Board of Trustees. The decision for North Carolina, as it seems, was based on Thorp's judgment even if the board advised or took part in the final choice. For the past 12 months, the Tar Heels have suffered from much destruction and the trustees gave Davis the benefit of the doubt, and carefully deliberated his future with the program.

"Our academic integrity is paramount and we must work diligently to protect it," Thorp said in a statement released by the school. "The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change."

It may not matter, but he does have a good side. That was most relevant over the last few seasons. At least it may have mattered when North Carolina simply hired Davis to bring in superb talent, and he has done exactly what he was asked. Did he accomplish it legitimately?? Who knows?

In the grand scheme of things, which of the nine players he groomed, were selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. But the wonderful talent he installed within the program was overshadowed by the series of national embarrassments. The more noticeable incident was John Blake, Davis' lead recruiter, charged of luring some of North Carolina's top players to an agent by the name of the late Gary Wichard. It's not the best thing to hire someone you've known for over 30 years sometimes, but Davis hired a longtime friend and it jeopardized his profession.

This was all a real shame for Blake, who had worked for Wichard prior to working under Davis, when he was charged with receiving payments from an agent. No disrespect to what turned into, respectively, one of the most hideous scandals of academia, but Davis had to be fired after learning that Jennifer Wiley, a former tutor, was charged with paying off parking tickets for players and had been accused of academic fraud.

On that, Davis needed to be fired. Then again, maybe he wasn't the problem as his name was not leaked to any of the allegations but still he was the coach. Ninety percent of the time, of course, the coach or quarterback takes much of the blame and Davis certainly has taken much of the abuse in the past 12 months.

All of this is similar to the Ohio State scandal, when Jim Tressel was fired for hiding the truth of violations involving his star quarterback and boldly lying to his bosses. It happened shamefully in the South as well, when ex-Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators about minor infractions. But worst of all is North Carolina, at least for what it seems, a school undermined by all the turmoil that holds the entire university liable.

That's why Thorp wanted a change to abolish the stench.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Say It With Me, Los Angeles -- Are You Ready for Some Football?

The delay was from the prolonged NFL labor talks, again and again, clearly needing 132 days, for almost the entire offseason for owners and players to agree unanimously on a new collective bargaining agreement. With the NFL impasse finally over, the ball's in the L.A. City Council's court to decide on bonds and plans for stadium proposals.

The lockout, if the city has desire to discuss stadium creations to bring a football franchise to Hollywood, now is officially over and the organizers and backers of the project can move forward at last when the NFL certainly reached a settlement and resolved the ugliness of the longest NFL lockout in history.

So now that the league escaped the dizziness of tumult from a stalemate to end a four-and-half-mouth stoppage -- as we can sigh in relief, as players can report to team facilities and practice, as players can sign contracts and acquire playbooks -- Los Angeles can sizably advance further as city officials revealed a financial blueprint that would bring in the projected $1 billion Farmers Field and create a new section to the communities adjacent Convention Center.

The fans of pro football -- the folks in Los Angeles are passionate who'd buy expensive tickets and attend games on Sundays, are willing to vow endless hours in watching the sport for what has become an America's birthright. So now after months of postponement because of the lengthy lockout, with much discrepancy between two parties unable to reach a deal that dawdled away the process, the supporters behind the idea are counting on team owners to negotiate fairly and turn their consideration to the second-largest market in the nation.

"For us, the timing is perfect because it's coming at the same time we're finishing what no one thought we could do, which is a deal with the city," said AEG's Tim Leiweke, who is longing to hear by the end of the month whether or not the L.A. City Council will provide practically $300 million in bonds and approve the completed written note of knowledge for a stadium deal. "It puts a whole new amount of momentum and pressure on us to get going."

What we know now -- after the longest strife -- a hostile feud with the players is finished. We still don't know whether or not the city of Los Angeles will approve a stadium to earn a franchise here in the spectrum of Southern California. As much as the population wants to see a football franchise come to L.A., as much as people all are anxious to worship their favorite team locally, it requires an agreeable decision from executives in the community to confirm the stadium proposal. From the grand scheme of things, the folks at AEG had intentions to reach a supposed "Memorandum of Understanding" with the Los Angeles City Council by July 31.

“[A]pproval of this MOU will represent a critical milestone in our efforts to break ground on this project within the next year,” AEG said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with the City to take this project to the next step at the same time that we also increase our focus on other key objectives, including progressing design of the project and securing the commitments necessary to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles.”

While the general public waits patiently to see whether or not a dream suddenly turns into reality, it almost looks as if the deal had tentatively been settled without the City Council ratifying an acceptable deal to excite the vast majority, yearning for their very own franchise in a diverse community that loves the sport. Here in this town, where individuals spend countless hours fond to witness the excitement of America's famous game in one of the well-known sports cities nationwide, the folks are begging for a football team.

From a business standpoint, building a venue like Farmers Field brings revenue, creates more than 18,000 jobs and cultivates the urban communities. The public might view the installment of a new franchise as a sense of pride in our neighborhoods locally, elated to be granted an NFL team. The foundation of a new home likely is probable, particularly when former Lakers star Magic Johnson compelled Staples Center ticket buyers and Lakers' devotees to sign a petition in support of the proposed scene.

We know the plan is in sight, a financial plan finally in the works for a new football venue, pursuing in building a modern stadium near the lively environment of downtown Los Angeles. It seems as though the creation would produce much revenue and create employment for jobless citizens. On the surface, if you reside in Los Angeles, the focus remains on earning an NFL franchise back into the city for the first time in 16-years. That would end the two-hour drive to San Diego near south of the border or even the six-hour drive north to Oakland or San Francisco just to brace NFL games in person.

The good news about the NFL returning to L.A is that the league could possibly return to Los Angeles by next season. As early as next fall, if all of this continues on pace, it's conceivable that Southern California could be rooting on a few potential candidates. It is possible and this is not a promise, but in all likelihood a dream that could come true as of this year.

While most of us are treating it like there's no chance of Los Angeles getting back the NFL, although the fascinating news is mind-boggling and rather hearsay until there is official word, the potential candidates for a move to L.A. include the Chargers, Bills, Vikings and Rams. It's as if a myriad of teams are interested in migrating to Los Angeles, a city of entertainment from sports events to theme parks to theatrical pieces to motion pictures on the big screens.

It's the very reason the Chargers are probably frontrunners to return to a profitable town or even the Vikings, demanding a stadium bill for plans of a new $ 1 billion stadium in the Twin Cities suburbs to keep the franchise there in the final season of their Metrodome lease. Unfortunately, the Vikings are unhappy over the lack of negotiations as Gov. Mark Dayton is more concerned with discussing the final specifics of the state budget.

What's more, though the Chargers and the Vikings are the top candidates to relocate to Los Angeles, the Raiders and 49ers could also call Southern California home with all the lack of stadium efforts in the Bay Area. But wait, there are the Jaguars, who could also be a potential suitor, even if owner Wayne Weaver denies any interest in moving or selling the team.

Eager to land the NFL in Los Angeles, a town passionate of football within a market where the West Coast audience have a strong connection with the sport when it has become a social trend of our nation, one of two local groups are expected to privately propose finances to invest in a deluxe football stadium. One has to wonder just what NFL team, if everything goes as planned, would sign a long-term lease after this season, a team that could either play at the Rose Bowl or Coliseum for the 2012 season and then play in its new home once it's built.

What will probably happen, after all, is the taxpayers won't be spared from sharing the costs when Los Angeles officials produced their financing plan Monday, a maneuver that would mandate the city to issue $195 million in bonds. The purpose of this is for the bonds to be backed by the city's general fund and be taken upon AEG developers.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles City Council is working rapidly with AEG to finalize a deal and begin the building assignment on Farmer Field, and it increasingly sounds like the framework of the deal between AEG and the city has moved quicker than expected. As AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke essentially outlines the groundwork, planning on bringing back the NFL to Los Angeles as early as December, he could actually be given support of the City Council to proceed in the process, which is erect a billion-dollar project on property owned by the city.

The timeline here might move vigorously quick, based on billionaire developer Ed Roski after proposing a scenario to construct a 75,000-seat stadium on a 600-acre site located in the City of Industry, but now it's believed that the venue will be built in downtown L.A. since there is no word on construction outside of Los Angeles. And even if, overwhelmingly, AEG requests a commitment from an NFL team before breaking ground to begin building the project, the notion of a deal getting done is on the verge of developing and the first group to bait an NFL team to Los Angeles are the biggest winners in the end of a difficult measure.

The deal, with so much uncertainty until things are officially decided, is that AEG would spend an estimate of $45 million on blueprint drawings for the new Pico Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center and Farmers Field, only if a deal passes before Aug. 20. After all of this, in part of the arrangements, no later than September, AEG and the city would begin talks on decisive agreements. The capital of entertainment has maybe just gotten larger than life, finally bringing the NFL back. That's right, football is coming back as the folks are aiming to build the largest stadium in the league. For the first time since 1994, football could be coming back to a city near you.

Where exactly will the team play? What team will come here? When will an NFL team come back to Los Angeles? Maybe very soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Players Refuse to Vote On Deal: A Season Remains in Limbo

What is this drama standing before us, a sort of apocalypse, or maybe even a crisis as horrifying as a dreaded recession we are witnessing? With the nation in shambles, a nation in an economic climate that seems incurable, a nation endangered by the ever changeable economy, the NFL is mired in disarray of its own.

If the problem is backlash over salaries from greedy and envious owners, then the prolonged disaster is coming from the stinginess of owners and players who have more common sense and intelligence than the franchise chairmen needy for additional money. The madness of a long-suffering stalemate, with so much egotism and selfishness cast on the richest enterprise that people nationwide suddenly stops in disbelief as much promise seem necessary after the owners on Thursday approved a 10-year collective bargaining agreement and announced plans for a figurative end of the lockout.

At this rate, when players decided to take a stance and manipulate the new CBA, pending until the players are unanimously ready to end the rift over profit, the players had no intent Friday to vote on the proposal team owners gave approval on. And it was nearly the remedy to virtually restore hopefulness and terminate the longest standoff in NFL history. The last thing the NFL needs, with so many angry fans already furious and outraged, is a missed season because of historically the worst lockout ever to paint a portrait of misery in an eventful league.

Amazingly, the players aren't allowing the league to push or bully them around, standing before the NFL, not afraid of a disoriented standstill ruining a 16-game season. The image of the owners, if you must, is an understanding of greed and a rash of torment. If the loyalists are studious enough to conceive that the owners bullied and tried convincing the general public in believing each owner's theory, then all individuals know NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is just as much at fault.

It was an offseason of nightmares for the organization and players, punctuated by the pending labor disputes. This was Goodell choosing his legacy instead of protecting the richest league from corruption. The deal will be finalized, and almost undoubtedly soon, for which there is too much money at stake for both parties. Without a full season -- Goodell would not only diminish his legacy but would also be labeled as a saboteur for such havoc -- it ultimately could damage his reputation as the commissioner who has been a pushover and overpowered by the players as well as the NFLPA.

It's a jarring look at a head honcho, once the world's most powerful man at the throne, whose lack of strong conviction and leniency transformed the landscape of professional sports. It wasn't until now, during the lockout, that he was communicative and steadfast in lifting the lockout as the season looms ever so quickly with disgruntled players ready to begin workouts and, sooner than later, report to mandatory meetings and training camps.

With the NFL labor troubles hovering over Goodell and the players, we finally have a clear understanding that this is the exemplification of skepticism many players have of Goodell and the owners. The lockout has been chaotic and a nuisance, a four-month affair of insanity in regards to manlike hubris as both sides sought ego and shares of a billion-dollar revenue. Neither side has reached a unanimous decision to resolve the widespread delirium nationwide.

The everlasting fray is rampant these days, with many furious fans begging for a football season by fall, ready to support their dearest team. That is, until the players ratify the deal to avoid the demise of the most popular sporting league. For a moment, it almost looked like the NFL and players had cured any differences or even animosity in a feud that was nearly as laughable as chuckling at Adam Sandler quarterbacking a football team of inmates from prison.

This is, at the very least, a dreadful lockout directly aiming towards a national turning point and a demolition. The hypocrisy takes a major twist in a league that remains in limbo, not exactly knowing the state of the latest progress made in approving the new collective bargaining agreement. There is NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who has represented and reinforced active players currently in the league in a temporarily decertified union, coinciding with the players after rejecting the latest deal presented.

If a deal is ever done, sooner rather than later, the players are required to recertify as a union to officially discontinue the impasse. Until then, the sight of a new deal is unlikely. More to the point, players have to recertify for the NFL to install substantial terms of the deal like a policy specifically regarding drugs or even disciplinary principles. The winners in such a tussle are the players, refusing to vote and leaving the sport in uncertainty.

This clearly tells us there's more work to be done, certainly when malcontent owners and players aren't compromising on much of the negotiations as the negatives still unfolds with preseason and the regular season quickly approaching. The four-months of unpredictability of an eternal lockout that lingers is the first work stoppage since 1987. With that being said, the exhibition opener was canceled -- the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game with Chicago and St. Louis scheduled to play in Canton, Ohio.

The owners, as businessmen are trying to restore the league and inherit profit based on a full season, approved a tentative agreement Thursday that would lift the lockout, imploring that players renew their union and sign off on the proposal. Although it was a shady deal and the players weren't going to buy into it and make sure to read before they even vote on it. Further proving the selfishness of the owners.

Above all, the lockout is lurching to a closure, simply because the players and owners are reacting as if they are adamant, at least better than a few months ago when all labor talks seemed unreal. The deal is relatively close to getting done, but many are unable to break off the dilemma of likely a missed season. At around dinner time a few days ago, owners voted 31-0 to approve the deal, except for the Oakland Raiders, a troubling franchise with a sullied owner in Al Davis, who abstained to authorize the deal. Shortly after, a statement had been released from the league to announce that the NFL ratified the settlement.

It read: "NFL clubs approved today the terms of a comprehensive settlement of litigation and a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association."

But then, the circus of a long-lasting monstrosity lasted when NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith sent an email to team reps that read: "Issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open; other issues, such as workers' compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms, remain unresolved. There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time."

The players held a conference call and opted not to vote, acknowledging they never seen the full proposal approved by owners. There is one person optimistic about a deal being finalized and it just so happens to be Goodell, when it all seemingly appears that the deal is fair for both sides to end the disruption. Much of the framework of the new CBA, if it ever is approved, is valid for 10 years without any opt-out, an agreement designed for players and owners in the long term. But it all comes down to the players, eventually passing a proposal the players haven't employed.

There is still next week for the players to approve or either counter the deal without missing the beginning of football season. At this moment, players aren't giving in but the shrewd owners certainly thought they'd have fallen for the tricks thrown at them instantly. If the owner’s plans are to victimize and deceive the players, they've forgotten the damage Goodell created during his reign as commissioner.

For one, he's blundered on a series of mistakes that can rationally be from his ego trip and dumbfounded reactions. For another, he is scorned by many players in the league, turning their backs on him and uttering cruel remarks angry with Goodell after losing much regards as the leader. As it stands, the players are true leaders and have bonded together, showing solidarity to send a strong message.

It's now the moment for the NFL to heal from all the sorrow, following over 100 days of troublesome standoffs that earned the loudness of the crowd nationally. It's easily knowledgeable never to fault the players, pulling off a surprising maneuver protecting themselves.

In other words, the players have discussed that they were risking lives for less profit in short-term salary as greedy, stubborn owners watched in suites and increased their revenue. If the NFL wants to keep fans, they need to protect the league from mayhem.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is NFL Lifting Lockout? It Will Dwarf the Hassle

If we're nauseous or paranoid over the deranged discussions for which the NFL is having, amid the 124th day of the draining lockout that the league encountered, now we can finally breathe in relief as a deal on the collective bargaining agreement appears imminent on both sides.

Why wouldn't both parties want to come back, save the league from itself, preserve a share in revenue, and lastly, appease a delirious crowd so fond of football, a game everybody adores as one of the most delightful events in America? It's entirely possible for the league and players to reach an agreement by Tuesday when both sides made progress towards ending the maelstrom from a lockout that almost lingered into the 16-game season.

If so, this would save minicamps, workouts and training camps of being postponed, but more importantly, it would save preseason in time as exhibition play looms ever so quickly. By now, to simply describe it, any enterprise is the tenet of politics or even a business intending to profit roughly on consistent revenue that predicates greed and ego in an industry populace anoints gracefully.

It's worth the time, perhaps a suitable moment when the season is in jeopardy, to acknowledge that fans spend religiously to witness the intense drama of football -- if you will -- whether the individual is a ticket buyer, an alcoholic in and out of local bars or even a couch potato who subscribes to NFL Sunday Ticket exclusively on DirecTV. The audiences of the NFL, in the meantime, occupy their heart and soul by investing money and endorsing football greatly with much interest devoted to their beloved franchises.

With both parties willing to compromise and increasingly enlarge optimism, in mostly the NFL's longest labor standoff, the owners appear ready to attempt to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement and end a four-month stalemate. What is the latest development is that the NFL is on the verge of lifting out of the lockout. And yet the vibes better reveals that the NFL is on the brink of a settlement as fall looms in time to salvage football.

The hardest part is realizing that the lockout is from a rift over a lack of profit and split revenues, which is absurd when owners and players are wealthy in an age where football alone has transformed into our habitude. The fame is one thing, but the dollars are another, earned from greedy owners pampering their superstars with huge paychecks for wearing a uniform, selling tickets, boosting earnings and rightfully committing their lives to a contact sport of violence and vehemence.

The point is, the glaring images of this week have not been so ugly for a pair of parties, infallibly wrangling and negotiating about salaries. The point is, the two parties are willing to compromise and terminate the labor wars when exasperated fans can elude the hullabaloo no football fan enjoyed this offseason.

If nothing else, folks were biting their nails, perturbed and worried to death, curious to know whether or not there would be an NFL season in time for the fall. It was almost laughable that two parties couldn't reach a unanimous decision, demanding weeks to finally even come close to a deal. When all is said and done, with all the damage from the football stoppage ruining much of its reputation, the league's 32 franchises won't miss training camps and contract discussions.

At the end of this long-lasting disaster, a slew of adjustments would be implemented with the NFL on the path of consideration from the frequent concussions that players sustain each season. The NFL, on the other hand, is ready to enforce safety with fewer harder hits, limited helmet-to-helmet collisions and more protection and benefits for retirees.

If not inevitable, which all of this seems reasonable for a league with perilous hits that can be harmful to athletes, the fines for illegal hits could be harsher and suspensions could be steeper. The new collective bargaining agreement, ladies and gentleman, is instrumental and pragmatic. At last, the two sides are close and the new CBA will transform the landscape of the NFL and will change the culture of football to mitigate much of the violence and enforce legal hits.

The concept we fail to realize in an industry's growth is the acerbic element of capitalism in which one side is normally greedier than the other side, begging for all the credit within the enterprise as one party isn't too satisfied with the outcome. All of this missed action has delayed all the rookies, and it often requires even more time for rookies to adjust and adapt to the playbook or pro-style tactics.

The logic is, after valiantly berating the few lawbreakers this offseason, that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would be fully capable of punishing the likes of DeSean Jackson, Aqib Talib and Kenny Britt for their misdeeds during the NFL-imposed standstill. As for angst created by the leisure time from the historic lockout, with much on hold until the two sides reached an agreement on a settlement, Talib wasn't on his best behavior and allegedly swung a pistol at a man.

If Goodell is the NFL Sheriff, as advertised, he'd impose a punishment to Hines Ward for his recent DUI arrest and hit James Harrison with a severe fine for his stupidity and lack of character, uttering homophobic slurs earlier this week. From the positive point of view, the lockout is almost over -- if you believe it -- with the anticipation that owners will ratify a new agreement when the parties meet next Thursday in Atlanta.

It was an unprecedented lockout, but as it stands, the two parties have made powerful strides on several issues, including one of the removals of one of the roadblocks to the new collective bargaining agreement -- finally successful in finalizing the rookie salary scale system. That means the wage scale includes a fifth-year option in the contracts of players selected in the top 10 overall in the NFL Draft. It certainly is true that the NFL and players have reached a tentative agreement at $120 million for 2011, in addition to $21 million in benefits, according to sources.

The cultural business is fast-approaching a new era -- a contract that would, in fairness, benefit the owners and players in many ways, no longer undermining the integrity of a likable sporting league. As such, it is reportedly known that the sides figured out how to divide $9 billion in revenue, after all, more shrewd and considerate. In a few days, under a theory that both sides almost reached a full agreement, NFLPA executive leader DeMaurice Smith is expected to speak with Goodell presumably in person.

Near the end of an ugly fuss heard publicly, owners and players, although the parties are somewhat malcontent but tired of the long-lasting drama, have inched closer finishing a round of intensive talks Friday. It took eight hours of negotiations in New York, determined to play football next season.

To be clear, there'll be an NFL season come fall.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Believe It or Not, Bud Selig Need to Protect Fans From Tragedies

It hurts me to see that brutality has stemmed from the lack of safety provided at every ballpark in Major League Baseball, increasingly developing from the recent episodes of fans reaching for baseballs and tumbling over the guard rail. The steroid scandals, for years, bothered the normal individual -- a hostile crisis the league ignored last decade.

The overseers of baseball were silent about steroids, damaging their credibility by denying or unveiling the truth and keeping an unclean secret hidden. As we know by now, five days after Shannon Stone, a 39-year old firefighter from Brownwood, Texas, died falling approximately 20 feet onto concrete from the stands in the outfield by reaching for a ball thrown by Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton, the majors lack much concern in protecting the fans.

The other night in Arizona, where the Home Run Derby in part of the All Star festivities took place, a tragic incident never scared the hell out of Keith Carmickle, a fan who desperately tried to retrieve a ball and jumped onto a metal table. He missed a catch and, as a result, he tipped awkwardly over the railing, but fortunately, his friends and brother rescued him from presumably another fatality. Never mind that a couple of fans have fallen to death this season, losing their lives trying to reel in a baseball for keepsakes -- although it isn't really worth the danger.

Never mind that near-death experiences as recently as last week has terrified much of the league. It was an incident so grisly and horrendous that commissioner Bud Selig prefers to remain mum, apathetic and inept addressing the latest tragedies. So wistfully, for a traditional event described as America's Pastime in this age, baseball faces much uncertainty and Selig never reactions if devastation stains the game in which most of the population cherish.

If baseball is more eventful and spectacular, the feeling is saddened of all the mortality seen as of recently, the state of mind is a heavy burden on the overseers when no one can erase the calamity from a fan that perished with the deficit in protecting the fans from any harm. But truthfully, in the wake of an eerily fall from the seats at Rangers Ballpark and nearly the similar tragedy at Chase Field the other night, Selig and the league should install boundaries as a safety measure for fans.

That time is now, before it's too late and before someone else dreadfully dies by falling from the upper deck onto fans or the ground. It would be inconsiderate and reckless not to implement a solution for reducing the incidents of perilous tumbles over the railing at ballparks. It wasn't long ago, when the Cubs were authorized from city building inspectors to play at Wrigley Field after protective netting was introduced to keep a portion of concrete from falling from the upper deck onto fans.

The same could be said for many ballparks at this very moment, with James Falzon, a New York Mets fan who was struck by a shattered bat at a game in 2007, filing a lawsuit against the ballclub and Major League Baseball and claimed both sides were unwilling in protecting him from a broken bat. The latest occurrences are evidence that the majors need to prioritize and find adjustments for securing every ballpark.

What's the downside in all of this, as a result of Selig's apathy and negligence, is how a 3-year-old girl was hit directly in the head by a foul ball off catcher Russell Martin's bat at the Dodgers game and had been rushed to the hospital where she underwent surgery to repair her fractured skull. And he's probably embarrassingly aware that a Cleveland Indians fan was drilled in the face by a bat slipping out of Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta's hands.

The bizarre point in time came during spring training where, Wanda Wilson, mother of Minnesota outfielder, Denard Span, was hit in the chest by a foul ball her son drove into the stands. The biggest news, though, in baseball is fans are risking lives to grab souvenirs, leaning over railings or boldly reaching for the ball while losing balance and toppling out of the stands.

The absurdity is striking in the majors -- from a tragedy that disheartened a numbed population, sadly in despair by the stunning news that haven't enlightened fans on the danger of chasing a ball out of reach. Among the reviewing of stadium safety, according to Selig who has lost all credibility and respectability a long time ago because of his lack of efficiency in setting boundaries for Major League Baseball, is that the league has become exceedingly lethargic and too soft.

It's difficult to ever imagine Selig reasonably reacting as a progressive advocate in emphasizing the aspects of protection from harm, to prompt the general public that seeking peace and comfort is more crucial than chasing after an unreachable ball. Perhaps, it's because a ball can't be too serious. And no material item is worth more than someone's health or life.

However, unfortunately, fans are overlooking the cause of Stone's death like it's all a joke and not realistic of common tragedies. The near-tragic fall came when Fielder smashed one near the right field stands, which would have been another fatal fall, dangerously close to suffering from an injury or even death. It seems all too common in many ways. In his regime, with all the people shaking their heads as Selig illustrates his stupidity and foolishness, he has lacked self-assurance in amending the deficiencies in the league.

Apparently, he is delusional and in denial about baseball, a sport in limbo because of his non-response to a shred of evidence that continuously is pernicious in a league. It's no surprise that the public became fatigue with Selig, from his defense to his uneducated theories to his apathy. The first step in the direction of eliminating the incidents at the ballparks would be for Selig to come to his senses, insist the emphasis of safety and resign from his term as the worst commissioner ever.

At some point, Major League Baseball need to protect its fans -- or else. The masses probably think the subsequent incidents are insane, but in some ways, there is a remedy to avoid further clumsiness or casualties. It's unfathomable to believe that he'll be more responsive to fans, though, as Selig is much too fixated on pushing for extended postseasons.

"For years, we talked to players and amongst ourselves about how we should be fan-friendly," Selig said at a meeting of the Baseball Writers Association of America. "It was a horrible accident, heart-breaking. One that is beyond comprehension to believe that something like that could happen."

Selig is one of the most controversial commissioners sports has ever seen, with the steroid crisis hovering over his head or now with fans facing fatality at ballgames. That said, of course, many people have much doubt in Selig. As far as improving safety, actions speak louder than words in this case.

I'll believe it when I see it, folks.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Derek Jeter Reaches Incredible Milestone, Now Worthy of Hall Pass

It’s too much of a tale hardly seen in a sport obsessed with numbers. It’s too much of a good thing to witness an incredible milestone, particularly when Yankees star Derek Jeter delivers and captures an all-time record at baseball’s colossal palace.

The man of great humanity sends positive vibes along with the notion that he’s not only an exalted icon but also one of the best players to ever play the game. As he’s the face of baseball, hardly disregarded in the shadows of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle, fans feel a deep sense of jubilation. The time couldn’t be better for a delightful moment in baseball, as the game is ailing from scandals and the steroid era.

But it all seems erasable for the Yankees and Jeter, whose power at the plate Saturday afternoon made fans believe that baseball is not tattered from banned substances in the last decade. And of course these days, Jeter is either loved or loathed. It is maybe because he wears a pinstriped uniform and plays for one of the most pompous sports franchises that is worthy of a postseason bid and World Series each season.

Although the Yankees are despised mostly because of their overexposure, arrogance and sense of entitlement, this is a well-honorable milestone. Jeter amassed his 3,000th hit with a home run he deposited into the left-field seats off Tampa Bay ace David Price in the third inning at Yankee Stadium. It seems abundantly clear that it was the biggest hit of his accomplished career, an individual accolade too many players fall short of reaching. And so he reached a pinnacle and cemented a legacy, capping a perfect 5-for-5 day with the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth to lead the Yankees to a 5-4 win over the Rays.

It’s time to acknowledge that he is a role model for many children who adore and imitate a modest individual and a star on the field. I think that, in hindsight, he’s the greatest player in Yankees history, widely recognized as a celebrity in New York, where he has enriched his remarkable career. So there’s a national mandate that we’re not allowed to praise Jeter, and that we should strongly hate him because he’s playing for an organization that everybody loves to hate.

The Yankees are ridiculed for spending unwisely, which has led to high-priced failure. Jeter is mocked for being a five-time winner with the Yanks. It’s not so much that people have animosity toward Jeter. It’s not so much that people berate him for donning a Yankees cap. It’s because he’s reached a plateau and became one of the cleanest hitters in baseball.

This is a breathtaking achievement to abate much stupidity and criticism aimed directly at the Yankees. We can be kind and admit that Jeter has compiled more hits than any of the great studs that have ever played for this storied franchise. This isn’t a matter of trying to figure out whether or not Jeter belongs in the Hall of Fame. There’s nobody who deserves a spot more than Jeter rightfully so. If there are folks who dislike Jeter, it’s clearly because they are envious and bitter, if not downright ignorant.

He has handled heavy burdens that came his way – and eventually — as Jeter emerged as baseball’s phenom when he first entered the league, he trained hard and nourished his body to achieve greatness. And in his late 30s, Jeter remains as impressive as he was when he blossomed into an impactful rookie in ’96 to help build somewhat of a dynasty in the late 90s and in the early era of the 21st century.

There’s very little reason to dislike Jeter, a natural hitter who changed the culture with his swing, the way he fields, the way he makes his off-balanced throws and his level of humility. As it all remains the same, Jeter, amazingly, is at the epicenter of baseball royalty, grabbing national attention on the day he went beyond all expectations by drilling a homer to become the 28th player in major league history to reach a vintage 3,000 hit milestone.

This is an achievement worth celebrating. For all of Jeter’s success, he is an All-Star and a player who appears to be a purest. He earned his first All-Star bid in 1998, hit a career-high .349 in 1999 and reached 2,000 career hits in 2006. To some, he is a pretty boy and an arrogant scumbag, but in reality, Jeter is a stellar hitter and an amazing player.

If nothing else, Jeter is underrated and should be anointed as America’s captain. He’s an influential, productive shortstop who became a legend before our very eyes. And as a specimen, he is one of the five greatest shortstops ever. More amazingly, he is a Hollywood celebrity. He hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in commercial ads and has endorsed numerous products only to gain popularity.

He smashed a home run for a career hit No. 3,000, and showed doubters in such a dramatic fashion that he’s been unfairly disrespected after playing so brilliantly. There hasn’t been a shortstop that appeared in more games for one team or produced more hits while playing the position.

Better than advertised, he is Captain 3000 and has mastered all his accomplishments on the field by the way he lives off the field. If there’s any player clean in his era, despite all the doping revelations, it’s Jeter. For all the talk about this being the dirtiest era, Jeter has stayed clean, as it has been difficult to avoid a steroid crisis.

What’s so wonderful about Jeter is his longevity, leadership, intangibles and greatness. There is a place for Jeter in Cooperstown. Give him a Hall Pass, although he has never been a slugger but a ground-ball hitter who connected on pitches and laced hits into the field to drive in runs. There’s no doubt in our minds that he is extraordinary and will go down as the best player in Yankees history.

Welcome to the 3,000-hit club, Jeter.

Friday, July 1, 2011

As NBA Lockout Looms, Mr. Stern Is Under Much Tension

There is absolutely no bigger crisis in the NBA than the aspect of greed or disregarding presumably the instability and riskiness stemming from the current lockout that will in all likelihood run the entire season 2011-12 season. It's a damn shame that the NBA season could be lost, as the collective bargaining agreement expired, the image and credibility of the NBA continues to slip with the lockout and all the blame falls squarely on David Stern.

The problem with the economic downturn is now owners have a way to manipulate their numbers that makes it seem like the team lost money the previous year. It is, however, inevitable to escape the painfully disaster of the pathetic tension of this lockout, which is absolutely ridiculous with the star power and the influx of superstars.

It's understandably rampant, and the league's stance on the matter is also despicable, as often happens in an industry where no one seems in control of the unbearable troubles that hovers over the NBA, flirting with the circumstances of a forfeited season. The element here is, which theorically disassembles the market, ticket sales and the glamour in what the league signifies, the association is disrupted in the midst of this lockout, as owners claim that the teams are not profitable to endure another 82-game season.

If you ever wondered why basketball is mired in a labor dispute, as the sport is gradually gaining popularity and plenty of attention, it's probably because NBA teams are losing in profit according to the owners. Instead of revealing the truth which is the owners just want more money and to pay the player less.

It comes as no surprise when this is an effort to achieve certainty, and when owners are willing to slash cost. This is the beginning of a grotesque lockout by NBA owners from a cordial scenario that escalated into ugliness. The eyes of the owners is revenue, and while we await a meeting with the players' union Tuesday in New York, an engagement commissioner David Stern acknowledged last Friday, it could benefit or tear down the NBA.

The man is finally trying to save the league, ready to meet for the fourth time in full sessions in the last three weeks, along with a few minor sessions. On a few occasions, Stern and Billy Hunter had conversations on the phone regularly, without resolving the issue of labor disputes. The sides will have to sacrifice and reach a consensus deal. It all comes with trust and self-awareness. It all comes with matured conversations to relieve all the tension and heavy burdens. It all comes with both parties compromising and taking another side's stance into consideration.

In this case, actions speak louder than words.

This is all about owners getting richer, capable of inheriting more profit for greed, prestige and ego. It's one of many problems associated in sports and, as a result, it is killing the integrity and beauty of the event brainwashed by money, if nothing else. Why would owners be foolish to waste a forgotten season and lose on millions, all because of greed and wealth? Stern played right into the owners hands and didn't bother with being tough on the owners.

The vast majority of owners, many of whom are gaining riches and prominence and holding the leverage even with millions of annual debt service to pay before hiring or signing a megastar to an enormous contract, are reluctant in surrendering the dollars. Either way, that is, the heavy talks is an indicator of bad news. The problem here is, Stern is the focal point of the labor wars, and one can argue that issue could damage his legacy.

These talks are mainly swirling around a myriad of owners tired and infuriated of losing money, eager for increased revenue and substantially the leverage to restore order of full control. Thus, he is a strict and relentless commissioner, harshly known for imposing the hardest suspensions on players -- there is a dubious understanding that he's not the power or significance of the NBA, a scrutinized commissioner in recent memory -- as many wouldn't mind his successor to take over the duties of a challenging role.

Sometimes, he's an enabler, pampering, lavishing and anointing owners with unconditional love, very seldom giving the players representing the league credit for bolstering the growth and popularity after the international stars have enriched globalization and after the superstars have cultivated the game's place. In the end, it's hard to believe there'll be an NBA season, when the players -- turning to partnerships -- are sort of siding with the owners in every facet of the negotiations where team owners are forced to behave more aggressively in a diplomatic war.

"We've continued to try our best to be respectful and reasonable with, not only our ability to listen to what the NBA owners are asking or demanding from us, but we've also tried to express the fact that we're more than willing to negotiate," National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher said during The Finals. "And that we've expressed and actually committed to being willing to make some adjustments, and tweak some things, make some quote-unquote compromises in order to try and get this deal done without the event of a lockout. At the same time, we have a responsibility as a Players Association to prepare our guys for that possibility."

At this point in time, the league and its players' association are about $7 billion separated, but the NBA circus has become intense publicly, a misguided theory and catastrophe. If Stern desperately has a sense of pride to remove the stench, he should consider jettisoning the lingering drama of a possible work stoppage, akin to the NFL mess that the enraged fans are very accustomed to.

Wipe away the notion of doomsday. Forget about the animosity. Ignore the wrangling between two parties, uncertain of which direction to take the matter. Fully understanding the distinction between the NFL and NBA troubles, all while a pair of associations have degenerated in a rift over money, the NBA on decline in finances as long as owners pout and petulantly views the discrepancy of a lockout for the intent of earning money.

The owners' reactions are if they don't earn an active 2011-12 season, the wealthy businessman can nevertheless possess millions from their television network deals for survival in the event there is no basketball. In all probability, the players are limited if this happens with shirking profit. There is no evidence of Billy Hunter, the NBAPA's executive director, cutting paychecks to accommodate everybody's wishes. It's possible players will walk out under their own power without enough specifics on what is materializing during labor talks.

For now, Stern has continued his legacy of incompetency as he's pretty much destroyed all that was good with the NBA and turns a blind eye away from the issues that have been plaguing the NBA for the last decade. In the hierarchy of Stern's position, as you probably know as well, he watched the Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert descend 26 percent in value of his franchise without the LeBron James in present. It was so mind-boggling to hear Bob Johnson, former owner of the Charlotte Bobcats lose an estimate of $125 million in sale of the franchise to Michael Jordan.

A shocked reaction with the drama and silliness is actually that the players are willing in offering back $100 million in salaries over the next five years. That's not the $800 million yearly over the next 10 years, anxious to reduce their income from 57 percent to 54.3 percent. It's a glaring understanding the players are reluctant of returning 25-40 percent of revenue annually, viewing how players dismiss deliberating a steep salary cap, just as much as they aren't contemplating the blueprint of Flex Tax. The point is, the players don't even have an interest in the maximum limit on guaranteed deals lowered from 5-6 years to three years.

"We're not the ones who have a problem with the agreement we presently have," Hunter said. "We're sensitive to what league owners are telling us. We understand we're living in a different time and we hear what they're saying about adjustments that need to me made. But when you're approximately $7 billion apart, when you haven't moved for months, and you've spent years threatening to take us to this point, it is what it is.

"The players have resolve. We're all for legitimate negotiations as opposed to some of the incredible things they're asking for. Our league has enjoyed a sensational year, breaking numerous ratings, experiencing tremendous success. It doesn't have to be interrupted, but it's their call to lock us out. We certainly expected it and we're ready for it."

The long, exhausting days are ahead for the owners and evidently Stern to avoid a lockout since missing 32 games during the 1998-99 brief stoppage. Either it can make or break Stern and the league.