The thinking is that the Eighth Circuit will conclude that the lockout should remain in place, that negotiations will get serious after Week One is missed (and the NFL and its players incur the wrath of the fans and the media by not playing on the 10th anniversary of 9/11), a deal is reached within a month, camps open in early October, a single-game preseason is played, and the real thing starts in November.
Collinsworth elaborated on his views in a weekend discussion with Peter King of SI.com, including a general observation about the mess that currently exists.
“Is this really what we want — judges determining so much about the future of the National Football League?” Collinsworth said. “We’ve got the greatest game in the world here in a time of incredible wealth, and we’re in a position where that very possibly can be changed forever here very soon. And I’m just asking: Why?”
The easy answer to the “why?” question is that both sides have opted for leverage over compromise. But that’s really where Collinsworth’s “why?” becomes even more relevant.
Why are the players and the owners so intent on getting the best possible deal that they are pushing the sport to the brink of long-term damage?
“God, I just wish I could get through to somebody,” Collinsworth added. “You know how when you’re talking to your kids, and you know positively what the right thing to do is, and you also know they’re going to do something else, and there’s nothing you can do about it? That’s how I feel now. And, God, is it painful to watch.
“The game’s so good. The players are making money. The owners are making money. The commissioner’s got some good safety initiatives going. The networks are thrilled. The fans are thrilled. The game’s never been better. It’s time to quit sugarcoating this thing and really start thinking about what the NFL really might look like at the end of the process.”
He’s referring to the possibility that the players will eventually win the antitrust lawsuit (regardless of whether the lifting of the lockout while the case proceeds is upheld on appeal), that the players won’t make significant concessions from the ensuing position of ultimate leverage, and that the league will eventually say, “Screw it. Let’s have no rules. Let’s be baseball.”
Hell, maybe that’s what the hard-line owners secretly want. Maybe Jerry Jones wants to blow up the current system so that he can keep all the money that America’s Team makes and spend as much of it as he wants on the players he wants, in search of the string of Lombardi Trophies that he covets. And maybe Mike Brown is content for the Bengals to be 4-12 each year as long as he can pay the players as little as he wants while still making a tidy profit.
It only takes nine owners to block any and all proposals for a new deal, and if only nine owners ultimately want an NFL in which they can run their businesses as they see fit, the other 23 owners and everyone else who cares about the game will have to deal with it.
Perhaps the only way to knock this possible plan off course is for folks with the influence of Collinsworth to openly ask “why?” and for the rest of us to adopt a position other than “wake us up when regular-season games are missed.”
By then, it could be too late for anyone to make a difference.