Of all the teams in the NFL, the Detroit Lions are surely the most hopeful that a football season will occur in 2011.
After all, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh believes they can go 16-0. Though we’re not ready to share his optimism for such an outcome, we think they can return to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
It would be fitting, then, that as the Lions are peaking, the NFL is staring at a potential full-season lockout.
Team president Tom Lewand shared the organization’s views on the matter with season-ticket holders via e-mail Saturday.
“In the interest of communicating openly with our most valued customers, we wanted to write to keep you updated on how the expiration of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement may impact the 2011 season,” Lewand said.
“As you probably know, the Collective Bargaining Agreement — the contract between the league and the labor union representing the players — has expired. The NFL is working hard to reach a new agreement with the players, and we hope the negotiation process does not disrupt this football season. You should know that it is no way disrupting our preparation for a great 2011 season.
“In the event any games are cancelled, be assured we will provide you with a full refund, with simple interest, for any cancelled preseason or regular-season home games. We will provide you with the details of the refund program at the appropriate time should it become necessary. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the refund policy, or any other matter, please contact your account representative or any sales representative at (313) 262-2011.
“We are sorry the CBA expiration has created some uncertainty during this offseason. We understand and respect that what is most important to you and to all of our fans is that we play football in 2011.
“We share your passion for NFL football and your excitement for the upcoming season. Our coaches and personnel department continue to work diligently to prepare for the NFL Draft in April and to be ready as soon as the teams and the players are able to come to a fair agreement for both sides.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding. We greatly appreciate your support of the Detroit Lions and will continue to keep you informed of our plans for the 2011 season.”
Did you notice what Lewand did there? He didn’t blame the union.
And he shouldn’t. Both sides are trying to cut their best possible deal. Faced with a near-certain lockout, the players are rolling the dice in a court of law. It may work, it may not work. The NFL will try to force them back to the bargaining table. It may work, it may not work.
Either way, one side shouldn’t blame the other, and neither side should act like they’re doing anything for the fans. The players have tried time and again to do so.
Their approach (if successful) benefits the fans by preventing a lockout. But they players aren’t doing it for us. They’re doing it for them. Any benefit to us is coincidental.
Indeed, the players weren’t thinking about the fans 24 years ago, when they went on strike. In that case, as in this case, they did what they thought was in their best interests.
That said, the fans have every right to be upset at one or both parties for failing to get a deal done, instead of trying to apply leverage in order to secure slightly “better” terms. Along they way, they’ve compromised their relationship to the point where some major feather unruffling needs to happen before the parties will agree on anything.
We credit the Lions for doing their part toward mending fences, by not further inflaming the situation with rhetoric aimed at getting the fans riled up against the players.