There was hope several weeks ago regarding the NFLPA’s anticipation of a lockout when Executive Director De Smith reduced his assessment from 14 on a scale of one to 10 to 95 percent on a scale of one to 100.
Smith recently joined Shan Shariff of 610 Sports in Kansas City, and Smith put the number back to 14 — which technically is equivalent to putting the chances at 140 percent.
Smith also reiterated some of the standard talking points regarding the potential for a lockout: the $4 billion (down from $5 billion) in supposedly free money that the NFL will get from the networks if there’s no football in 2011, the refusal of the league to open its books, and the “18-percent pay cut” that the league has demanded, an assertion influenced by perspective and (arguably) a faulty assumption that revenues will remain flat.
But the one thing that caused our ears to perk up the most came when the concept of a “lockout” was introduced into the conversation.
Said Shariff, “You corrected me a couple months ago . . . what’s the proper term now again DeMaurice?”
Responded Smith, “Lockout. I don’t know what a work stoppage is.”
Then Shariff said that the league “hasn’t had a lockout since 1987.” And Smith didn’t correct him to say that, actually, it was a strike 23 years ago, not a lockout.
It’s a subtle point, but it potentially speaks to our belief that the league won’t lock out the players, but instead bargain to impasse and impose the last offer as the new work rules, with the players then forced to decide whether to show up or walk out. Smith, we suspect, will try to characterize the move as a constructive lockout — a stance that gives the players no choice but to lock themselves out due to the gross unfairness of the final offer.