More and more current and former players are singing the praises of the labor deal that the league and the NFLPA negotiated in 2006. The latest to chime in? Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer.
“I have talked to people on both sides,” Dilfer told ESPN 710 in Seattle. “I have always said from the get-go there had to be a lockout. We won the last Collective Bargaining Agreement by so much. I remember thinking when we actually signed the extension, ‘What are the owners doing? I mean we are killing them on this.’ I was playing at the time and I reaped all the benefits of it. I knew there had to be a lockout this time around. I knew there’d be a lot of drama surrounding it; a lot of conjecture; a lot of lawyering going on.”
So when will it all end?
“I’ve always said the big chips didn’t put in yet,” Dilfer said. “Sometime after the draft, in the middle of May, the big chips are going to be put on the table. Whether it’s the President, Congress, the networks, the big dogs are going to step in and say, ‘There has to be football. You guys figure this out or there is going to be severe consequences.’ At that time we will see a deal put in place. I don’t think it is going to affect the OTAs in the summer, or training camp at all, and we’ll be playing football in August as we always expect to.”
We hope he’s right. And it’s becoming undeniable that, indeed, the players got a great deal in 2006. The fact that they have at no point pushed for more in 2011 confirms that they view the current (now expired) terms as very favorable.
The challenge, as we’ll explain in more detail soon, is to come up with a way for both sides to plausibly claim victory. There’s a way to do it — the two sides simply need to have the incentive to get it done. Like Dilfer said, that’ll likely come when Congress or someone else with plenty of juice makes it known to both sides that the time has come to work things out.