With the owners making a new offer even though they never received a response to the last offer and the players’ leverage taking a major hit with Monday’s court ruling, which included language making it pretty clear that the lockout will stay in place, it’s up to the players to decide whether to try to work things out, or whether to double down and let it ride in the courts.
The NFL wants the players to choose compromise.
“We’re not going to solve things through litigation and we’ve been clear on that,” NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told NFL Network on Monday. “What we need to be doing is focusing all of our attention on the process that’s going on here in this building with the assistance of the chief judge and in serious discussions with the players. We have an opportunity to resolve this matter and get the game back on the field, and that really should be our exclusive focus. Not litigation, not stays, injunctions, things like that. That’s not going to solve anything. So, I’m glad that it came out the way it did, but it’s just one step in a process and we need to focus on negotiation. That’s the only way we’re going to resolve this.”
But the players have yet to indicate that they’re ready to fold. Based on comments from Saints quarterback and NFLPA* Executive Committee member Drew Brees to Dan Patrick earlier this morning, it seems as if the players are still holding out hope for a victory in the Eighth Circuit.
“It’s really all about this appeal that is gonna be heard on June the third in the Eighth Circuit in front of the three-judge panel,” Brees said. He then summarized the legal proceedings to date, but he said nothing about the import of Monday’s ruling, which drops very strong hints that, on appeal, the order lifting the lockout will be scrapped. At one point, Brees sounded confident that the players will win on appeal, explaining that a successful appeal means that the players would be “winning again, for the fifth time in a row.”
We personally like and tremendously respect Drew, one of the great players and great guys in the game. But he and the rest of the NFLPA* leadership need to face reality on this. The players’ five-ruling winning streak has been disrupted by two straight important losses, with the lifting of the lockout being stayed for two-plus weeks and now being stayed until the appeal is resolved. And it’s widely believed that the handwriting regarding the eventual ruling has been carved into the wall.
The lockout, barring a stunning reversal by one of the two judges who voted for the permanent stay, is going to stay in place until a new labor deal is negotiated. Perhaps the smart play for both sides is to do a fair deal now.
At a time when the NFL could be spiking the football and dancing in the end zone, the league is instead calling for compromise. It’s the right approach, and we hope that both sides will use this opportunity to solve the situation once and for all.