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Silver: Deal is “highly achievable,” alternative is “Armageddon”

Goodell_Smith AP

As it turns out, Thursday’s agreement to agree on a 24-hour deadline for the purposes of possibly agreeing to a new agreement wasn’t the day’s biggest development.  Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, providing thorough and impressive detail as to the events that culminated in a deal to try to continue to make a deal, reports that “for the first time key figures in each camp believe a deal is highly achievable.”

And there’s no middle ground; the alternative, as one source explained it to Silver, is “Armageddon.”

More specifically, and as widely believed, the union would attempt to decertify and sue the league to block a lockout.  Eventually, the union would file a lawsuit alleging antitrust violations based on free agency, draft, and other rules that inevitably would applied against a 32-company, non-union workforce.  The league would fight every step of the way, trying to implement a lockout that eventually would deprive the players of game checks and, in time, prompt them to agree to the league’s terms.

Silver explains that, while the situation remains delicate, “the smart money is on a settlement.”

The dramatic shift comes in the wake of Tuesday’s “lockout insurance” ruling, which gave players their first real leverage in the talks.  Though, as Silver explains it, the owners remained strident on Wednesday, the union’s intention to decertify and sue prompted the league to begin to move toward a deal.

Silver writes that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith “shined” on Thursday, pushing for a settlement and remaining reasonable, “even as others around them assumed more radical stances.”  Along the way, Smith may have finally won the respect of owners who have been skeptical of his motives and his methods since he was hired nearly two years ago.

“They were convinced by Thursday evening that Smith was prepared to make a deal and believed others on [the union’s] executive committee were less enthusiastic about agreeing to the general framework being discussed by the two sides,” Silver writes.

Silver explains that a deal, if it gets done, would be roughly equivalent to the terms on the table before former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw seized upon former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s desire to negotiate an agreement that would allow him to retire and “skewed the deal toward the union’s interests.”  This would give the owners something between the current $1 billion off the top and the desired $2 billion off the top before the money is split, currently with the players getting 59.6 percent.

As to the other big issues, Silver thinks an 18-game season would be implemented (mistake), a rookie wage scale of some type would be adopted (good idea), and Judge David Doty no longer would be serving as the grand poobah of the CBA.

There’s still a long way to go, and a short time to get there.  By the end of Friday, the two sides — working through the men they’ve hired to do deals like this — need to decide whether to let them do the deal, or whether the preferred alternative is an explosion of litigation and a lockout that will alienate many fans and politicians, especially if Silver’s report regarding a possible deal is accurate.

Indeed, Silver’s report could become a factor on Friday.  If his info is correct (and we have no reason to think it isn’t), it means that one or more persons have broken the vow of silence in very a significant way.

That said, the fact that this information is coming to light could put even more pressure on those who are angling for a fight to get reasonable, since a fight that happens now would make those who choose the Armageddon option come off as even more unreasonable.

Either way, stay tuned.  It should be an interesting day.

And possibly a very depressing day.

Or possibly a very good day.

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26 Responses to “Silver: Deal is “highly achievable,” alternative is “Armageddon””
  1. redguy12588 says: Mar 4, 2011 7:07 AM

    This could possibly make or ruin my weekend.

  2. seanmmartin says: Mar 4, 2011 7:08 AM

    Hi, Jesus? I don’t bother you too often…

  3. thenewenglandpatriots12 says: Mar 4, 2011 7:18 AM

    My God, so this is how the world ends huh?

  4. deanvernonwormer says: Mar 4, 2011 7:18 AM

    Give the owners a break they deserve. You think Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, Woody Johnson and Al “Creepshow” Davis have enough money? Heck, Daniel Snyder had to drive the crummy old Lincoln to work today.

  5. snoop24 says: Mar 4, 2011 7:19 AM

    How could this make or ruin your weekend? It is people like you that will make these guys realize that they can shut er down and you will always come back. Let em walk or lockout and do something constructive other than spend your Sunday watching overpaid athletes give half an effort. I love football, don’t get me wrong. But when there are people who can’t even pay their mortgage and we are worrying about who is splitting what billion there is a real issue.

  6. Canyonero says: Mar 4, 2011 7:20 AM

    I wonder what hockey’s like..

  7. 8man says: Mar 4, 2011 7:29 AM

    I’m rooting for Armageddon! Unless the tail(the players) stop trying to wag the dog(the league).

    And honestly, I’m sick of the whole anti-trust exemption talk. Yes, the NFL is a monopoly, but only because they are the only one to successfully offer their uniquely branded product. It’s a monopoly achieved solely by merit and would stand up to criteria expressed as such in the Sherman Antitrust Act. The NFL doesn’t participate in actions that attack or jeopardize competition among the players or the market. It is the purchasers of their product that seek exclusivity in regards to broadcast and apparel rights.

    Let’s see this thing go the full distance, end the union and finalize the status of the NFL as just another employer so we never have to watch these silly proceedings again.

    “Wah, wah, wah. We are the players and the league is being mean to us by letting us play a game for a living. Don’t they know the risks they are making us endure?”

    Punks.

  8. jc1958cool says: Mar 4, 2011 7:35 AM

    how can you believe liars?

  9. 8man says: Mar 4, 2011 7:37 AM

    And further, my allegiances lie with the team and it’s colors, not any particular player or players. I love the Patriots and right now Tom Brady is the man. But when Tom retires I cheer for someone new wearing the Nautical Blue. And if he goes to another team, when the Patriots play that team I cheer for them to knock his candy-ass head off!

    Ultimately, it’s Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick who have architected what the Patriots have achieved. Players have come and players have gone, but 10 straight winning seasons speak for themselves. In my opinion, if you really love the game, you have to get behind your owner.

  10. ravenator says: Mar 4, 2011 7:39 AM

    Blah Blah Blah

    Let me know when they decide to act like grownups and have a signed deal in place.

  11. bobbyhoying says: Mar 4, 2011 7:43 AM

    A former player, who is very familiar with the situation, suggested to me yesterday that 90% of the players simply cannot afford a lockout. He thinks the players need the deal far more than do the owners.

  12. Kave Krew says: Mar 4, 2011 7:57 AM

    Since the TV money ruling earlier in the week that went against them, the owner’s have cooly shifted their stance towards working things out with the union. THAT moment is why there is hope for a settlement.

    I see today’s session being a eyeball test for both parties to see if the other side is truly sincere about settling things.

    If they pass the test, then I see them working out the details of a 1 to 2 week extension and then getting down to the nitty gritty starting tomorrow.

    I smell SETTLEMENT.

  13. Caldon says: Mar 4, 2011 7:57 AM

    Going from 16 to 18 games is not a mistake just like going from 14 to 16 games wasn’t then.

    And all those players who came out against it? everyone with half a brain knows that was just to gain leverage in the talks for concessions. The players would have been fools to come out in support of it until they got what they wanted.

  14. chapnastier says: Mar 4, 2011 8:02 AM

    The only thing that would suck is the 18 game season. But if the players are willing to agree to it then one can assume the owners have agreed to pay them more.

  15. darthvader89 says: Mar 4, 2011 8:10 AM

    Please, please, please come up with a settlement, I am already missing the free agency buzz. Even though it’d be cool if the draft came first this year.

  16. darthvader89 says: Mar 4, 2011 8:13 AM

    still hate the idea of an 18 game season though

  17. bartpkelly says: Mar 4, 2011 8:15 AM

    I don’t understand a vital part of this.

    If the players sue for anti-trust, and win. What doe sthe NFL have to do? Pay a fine right? Then, they have to negotiate again to make a deal?

  18. sterling7 says: Mar 4, 2011 9:03 AM

    There is no one who loves NFL football more than I. Maybe there are those who love it as much but definitely not more. That said I am also a huge fan of college football and consider myself a “student” of the game. Back when I was 17 years old I remember the Minnesota Vikings drafted Darren Nelson and being familiar with Darren Nelson at Stanford (as I love college football also) I was worried the Vikings would not sign him as he was holding out. I remember mentioning to my dad about Darren Nelson possibly not signing (my dad loves football also) and my dad said to me “I had better get my priorities straight, there are people out there looking for work, there are people out there trying to pay their bills, there are people out there trying to feed their children and wondering where their next meal will come from. My point being is that as much as I would miss NFL football I will not let it rule my life (despite what women in my life think) because I can’t live that way. To see these greedy owners and the lawyers and representatives that NFL players hire to represent them (because “most” NFL players are not smart enough to manage their own money let alone understand the negotiation aspects of the league’s finances) it’s actually pretty pathetic to worry about why people who make millions of dollars to play a game I sneak out of work early to play would be striking against billionaires who are loaded no matter what. An awful lot of us love football but we need to keep our priorities staight.

  19. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 4, 2011 9:10 AM

    “the smart money is on a settlement.”

    I’ll take that bet.

  20. teddyrex says: Mar 4, 2011 9:22 AM

    8man, you are really not very informed.

    “A monopoly achieved solely by merit”? So were the railroads and the steel companies back in the 1800s, which were the basis for the SHERMAN ANTI-TRUST ACT.

    It doesn’t matter how you acquire a monopoly, all that matters is that a monopoly, by virtue of being a non-competitive market, cannot engage in anti-competitive practices.

    Most of the disputed labor practices in the NFL are anti-competitive. Imagine if all the employers in your industry (I’ll guess you’re a secretary, because you’re at a computer a lot, but you don’t seem highly educated) got together, and collectively created a salary cap (capping all total labor expenses), a college draft (so you could only work for the employer who drafted you), a “franchise tag”, restrictions on “free agency” (aka moving to another job), etc. etc. etc.

    The only thin legal argument the NFL has right now is that the players’ decertification is pretextual, but that seems like a tough argument since NFL owners have been talking about a lockout for 18 months now, and both the independent mediator and a U.S. district court found that the NFL negotiated its TV contracts in bad faith to guarantee incoming revenues during a lockout.

    Think, research, then write. Don’t just spew ignorant baseless opinions. Whatever you may think of our current antitrust laws (and it sounds like you would like us to go back to the 1890s), they’re there, and they’re pretty clear.

  21. teddyrex says: Mar 4, 2011 9:31 AM

    bartpkelly,

    if the players decertify and then win, the courts can strike down various practices as illegal. most likely, this would include some of the provisions restricting free agency, and definitely the salary cap and revenue sharing (if the players challenged those).

    going forward, then, those practices would be effectively barred, and injunctions would be granted if the NFL tried to implement those again. In future CBAs, the players would likely not concede these provisions, or only with huge concessions from the league.

    in short, litigation threatens the entire structure of the NFL as it currently stands. if litigation happens, the NFL ends up looking a lot more like MLB (no revenue sharing, no salary caps, big market teams dwarfing small market teams).

  22. 8man says: Mar 4, 2011 11:01 AM

    @teddyrex:

    You’d be surprised. I don’t view the NFL the way you do. I view it as a corporation with 32 offices throughout the country. Much like the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. If you don’t like what they pay you, you can go work elsewhere. Same with NFL players. The only reason we are having this discussion is that the players were allowed to unionize. That needs to end.

    All business organizations have job classifications and pay grades. The NFL should be allowed to do the same and cap what they want to spend on salaries. It’s called budgeting, pal.

    I also don’t view the NFL as having negotiated the TV contracts in bad faith. They had a contingency arrangement. Big deal! The owners and NFL staff make those contracts, not the players. The players are employees. Period.

    I’d really like to see an anti-trust suit go to court. I’m not sure the NFL even needs the exemption when they have a monopoly based on consumer preference and not coercion. In my eyes, the NFL meets the single entity requirement as put forth in the Supreme Court ruling and thus is free to determine how much it pays it’s employees and who it does business with.

    So teddy, if you are done insulting my intelligence, I’d like to point out how you are coming off as a jealous, begrudging patron that is attempting to tell a business with which you probably have no association how to run itself. That’s pretty galling.

  23. 8man says: Mar 4, 2011 11:47 AM

    What I meant to type was “despite the Supreme Court ruling.”

    I really believe if they argued the composition of their league on its own versus a single action with a former vendor, the outcome would be different.

  24. CKL says: Mar 4, 2011 12:09 PM

    teddyrex says: Mar 4, 2011 9:22 AM
    (I’ll guess you’re a secretary, because you’re at a computer a lot, but you don’t seem highly educated)
    ____________________________________
    Well if that isn’t an elitist and patronizing and narrow-minded statement, I don’t know what is.
    It’s hard for me to respect anything you have to say as “factual” (not that I think you care)when you can say something like this.

  25. Lou Pickney says: Mar 4, 2011 3:14 PM

    The NFL not only wants Judge Doty out as overseer of part of the CBA — it outright wants federal oversight over it to end outright. But, to be sure, ousting Doty would be major progress in the NFL’s eyes.

  26. surshot says: Mar 4, 2011 3:27 PM

    18 games well there goes the price for the NFL sunday ticket by directv.

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