De Smith softens lockout stance, sort of

In early February, during the first pre-Super Bowl press conference of the new NFLPA regime, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco asked Executive Director DeMaurice Smith the chances of a lockout in 2011, on a scale of one to 10.

Smith pegged it at a 14.

Last week, Smith appeared with our pals the Junkies of 106.7 The Fan in D.C., and Smith offered a slightly less pessimistic view, even though he then claimed that his position hasn’t changed.

Asked to apply a percentage to the chances of a lockout, Smith said, “95.”  (We were reminded to finally post on this thanks to the presence of the quote in Peter King’s MMQB.)

Here’s the rest of the response, via  “If you remember Ocho asked me a question at the Super Bowl of on a scale of 1-10 what do you think?  And I stand by that.  The league has gone to the TV networks and obtained contracts that guarantee them the money even if the games are not played and they’ve renegotiated all the assistant coaches’ contracts to envision a lockout.  If you were me and you had to look at two facts in order to educate you about the chances of a lockout, what would you think?”

So, apparently, Smith thinks 14 on a scale of one to 10 is the same as 95 percent out of 100.  We don’t, and we think Smith is beginning the process of softening his stance given that the union is beginning to realize that there won’t be a lockout.  Instead, the owners are far more likely to bargain with the NFLPA until an impasse is reached.  At that point, the owners will then implement the terms of their last offer as the new rules moving forward.  Though the union will have the ability to litigate the question of whether an impasse truly existed or whether the league bargained in good faith, football will continue — unless the players choose to strike.

We’re tempted to think that Smith will try to persuade the players that the unilateral imposition of rules deemed to be unacceptable equates to a lockout, but we doubt that this will get the players to not show up for work.

Thus, of all the news that came out in the past week, this superficially subtle remark from Smith may have been the best news for NFL fans.  By moving from a 14 on a scale of 10 to a 95 on a scale of 100, Smith is conceding that the likelihood of a lockout has dropped.

19 responses to “De Smith softens lockout stance, sort of

  1. The league is becoming more and more arrogant. The country will turn on you just like they did baseball and, to a much smaller scale, hockey if a lockout does come.

  2. It seems like every time this guy opens his trap, he feels the need to mention that the owners will be paid by the networks even if the games aren’t played. While that may be true, it’s not as if it doesn’t need to be paid back eventually. That part never seems to find it’s way out of his mouth. The players are in such a weak postion it’s a joke, and how Upshaw ever agreed to leave them in this kind of a spot is beyond me. It’s as if the concept of “no salary cap” left him so giddy, he didn’t bother to grasp the rest of the deal. But I guess we’ll never get the answer to that.

  3. What is going on? This is absurd. Play and shut up. As far as I am concerned all of these people are essentially lotto winners. What is there not to be happy about in life? Lockout’s should not even be considered for the sake of the fans. I mean c’mon, really, you can’t figure out a solution for that amount of money? Really?

  4. I’d say D Smith actually thinks 14/10 is 95%. That’s just me though, imagine you have to be somewhat nice to him. He will be gone after new CBA is done.

  5. “The league has gone to the TV networks and obtained contracts that guarantee them the money…If you were me and you had to look at two facts in order to educate you about the chances of a lockout, what would you think?””
    As one of the network execs pointed out, that provision had been in every network deal for decades. Yet, the league and union managed to successfully negotiate many labor deals without lockouts.
    So Smith’s logic doesn’t stand up. That, and he exposes himself as a newbie who has no knowledge of the history of the league’s labor history.
    Either De Smith is an idiot, or he thinks we’re all idiots, or both. Either way, I think this deal is going to prove to be an expensive education for him.

  6. I honestly expected the owners would resort to a lockout rather than endure a season without a salary cap, but it appears they’ve done a pretty good job of ensuring that salaries don’t spiral out of control much more than generally happens in capped seasons. Good for them. The people who are hurt the most are those free agents with 4-5yrs. in the league.

  7. Everyone in the United States, and world want there to be football in 2011 except DeSmith. He knows any press is good press and if there is no lockout he’ll be forgotten forever.

  8. A lockout by the owners is going to hurt the players. In this current economy, which won’t have healed all that substantially by the time all this goes down, very few people across this country are going to sympathize with the players, who many already feel act like spoiled brats. Players can be easily replaced, owners cannot. I am not saying that the players union should give in to every demand made by the owners, but they have to understand that the gravy train is coming to an end. The league cannot continue to operate like they have been. The players are going to have to accept some concessions, particularly the rookie wage scale that the owners would like implemented.

  9. Smith is in SO FAR over his head it isn’t even funny. Upshaw kind of sucked, too, so this isn’t anything new, but at least Gene was respected and that counts for something. Smith is a freaking joke. There may or may not be a lockout but that decision will be entirely an ownership decision because the union has no power here.

  10. the owners will lose too much money to let this happen.
    & all the comparissons to baseball & hockey lockouts are on point. This will hurt the sport with dramatic consequences.

  11. Upshaw negotiated a contract for the players thats SO BAD the owners are willing to risk millions to renegotiate it more in their favor. C’mon man, as a lawyer and NFL bigfoot I’m sure you are friends with people who felt they should have had Upshaw and “De Smiths” job, but it’s unfair, to say the least, to use your site to make these guys look incompetent when they have actually done a fair job. You never critic the job of the guy on the owners side who did a deal that the owners are preparing to lockout for if it isn’t redone. Your site shows not a pro-owners tilt but a anti the last two union head slight that I think is unfair in it’s tone. But it’s the internet, right?

  12. i have zero empathy for the NFL Players union.
    Unions were supposed to help bring workers together to have a voice against big business that was abusing workers.
    can someone explain to me why a league of whiny millionaires needs a union? more importantly, why their union boss needs to talk like they’re not being treated fairly?
    Give me a effin break, you are a union full of millionaires. the most ridiculous union in the world, seriously.
    NO empathy for them.

  13. @myeaglescantwin: Exactly right. I’ve been a hardcore hockey fan for about 25 years. When the lockout came and they canceled the season, I walked away. Took me a couple years to fully support the NHL again.

  14. I left baseball in 1995 (or 96.) whenever the players walked out towards the end of the season.
    I was one of those that knew every stat.
    I’ve seen 3 games since.
    But the camels back broke not when the players walked out, though it was severyl twisted. It broke when a lawsuit later that December decided the issue. A lawsuit that was in no way influenced by if the players went on strike or not.
    So the players walked out before they had exercised every avenue. They tried to force the owners to cave by taking away the playoffs instead of letting the lawsuit runs its course first.
    They didn’t let the off the field issue be decided off the field.

  15. OR, maybe he said 14 out of 10 for dramatic effect and has always thought that there was a very strong (95%) chance of a lockout…

  16. Wow, so there has been a 45% drop in the chance of a lockout? It went from 140% chance to 95%…perhaps it will continue dropping and we will get football in 2011.

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