We’ve sensed over the past week a strong reluctance by the NFL to engage the players in settlement talks, and we think it flows from a sudden and strong sense of confidence that the owners will prevail in the April 6 hearing on the motion to lift the lockout while the Brady antitrust case unfolds.
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has confirmed our suspicions.
“The reality of that is we think we’ll win, but if we don’t, we’re still going to get back to the negotiating table,” Weaver recently said, according to Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. “It’ll just be how soon and when. Once we get back to the negotiating table, we all know that we have to play football in 2011. That’s our bottom line.”
Weaver also referred to the players who have given their names to the class action against the league as the “gang of 10,” and Weaver referred on several occasions to the decertification of the union as a “sham.”
Still, Weaver thinks the parties eventually will be talking again.
“It’s obvious there will be some leverage to whichever side prevails,” Weaver said. “But I don’t think it will keep from getting a deal done that’s fair to both sides. I think the offer that was on the table when the union decertified, I thought it was an extremely fair offer. Did it have all the tweaks that the players wanted? Probably not. We should’ve stayed at the negotiating table until those things got ironed out.”
The two sides can get back to the table right now, if they want. In our view, the owners don’t want to do it, because the owners think they’ll win the April 6 hearing, and that this will give them more leverage when the time comes to talk again.