Over the past few days, we’ve begun to wonder whether the NFL really has the nerve to impose a lockout. With the NFL becoming in recent years what spokesman Greg Aiello described to PFT in December as “the ultimate reality show,” everything the league does draws more and more attention.
And so a lockout would attract plenty of attention — and in turn a lot of scrutiny.
Already this morning, I’ve heard the most casual of football observers talking about whether the NFL will be locking out the players at midnight. If it happens, it will be a big deal. And there will be a backlash.
And the NFL knows it.
Not all that long ago, I was convinced that the NFL had launched an elaborate, detailed, and persuasive bluff. As one league insider explained it, any deal the NFL strikes with the players will be better than the deal the NFL currently has. So why not apply maximum leverage and then do the best possible deal on the brink of a lockout?
We no longer thinks it’s a bluff, but we also think that, with the league now standing on the edge of the cliff, the question becomes mustering the nerve to jump.
Our advice? Step back from the edge, press pause for at least a week, objectively assess Judge Doty’s ruling in the “lockout insurance” case, and begin to lay the foundation for negotiating a fair deal that allows both sides to continue to get richer and richer.
Once a lockout happens, fans will revolt. And even though it’s not in our long-term interests to scare people away from following the NFL, we plan to join in the outcry.
There’s no reason why men of intelligence and goodwill can’t figure out how to carve up a $9 billion pie in a fair and appropriate way. But if it’s beyond the capabilities of the owners and the union, fear not. Failure to reach an agreement means there will be a much smaller pie to share in the future.