In early February, during the first pre-Super Bowl press conference of the new NFLPA regime, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco asked Executive Director DeMaurice Smith the chances of a lockout in 2011, on a scale of one to 10.
Smith pegged it at a 14.
Last week, Smith appeared with our pals the Junkies of 106.7 The Fan in D.C., and Smith offered a slightly less pessimistic view, even though he then claimed that his position hasn’t changed.
Asked to apply a percentage to the chances of a lockout, Smith said, “95.” (We were reminded to finally post on this thanks to the presence of the quote in Peter King’s MMQB.)
Here’s the rest of the response, via SportsRadioInterviews.com: “If you remember Ocho asked me a question at the Super Bowl of on a scale of 1-10 what do you think? And I stand by that. The league has gone to the TV networks and obtained contracts that guarantee them the money even if the games are not played and they’ve renegotiated all the assistant coaches’ contracts to envision a lockout. If you were me and you had to look at two facts in order to educate you about the chances of a lockout, what would you think?”
So, apparently, Smith thinks 14 on a scale of one to 10 is the same as 95 percent out of 100. We don’t, and we think Smith is beginning the process of softening his stance given that the union is beginning to realize that there won’t be a lockout. Instead, the owners are far more likely to bargain with the NFLPA until an impasse is reached. At that point, the owners will then implement the terms of their last offer as the new rules moving forward. Though the union will have the ability to litigate the question of whether an impasse truly existed or whether the league bargained in good faith, football will continue — unless the players choose to strike.
We’re tempted to think that Smith will try to persuade the players that the unilateral imposition of rules deemed to be unacceptable equates to a lockout, but we doubt that this will get the players to not show up for work.
Thus, of all the news that came out in the past week, this superficially subtle remark from Smith may have been the best news for NFL fans. By moving from a 14 on a scale of 10 to a 95 on a scale of 100, Smith is conceding that the likelihood of a lockout has dropped.