26

July

The NFL Lockout is Finally Over: What Roger Goodell was Really Thinking

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has to be feeling good about his sport as the NFL lockout ends.

Roger Goodell was asked today if there were any damages from the NFL lockout that need to be repaired. He said:

“Well, I would say from the Commissioner’s perspective, we know what we did to frustrate our fans over the last several months. They want football and our job is to give them football. We think that through a 10-year agreement here, we’ve secured the future of the game to ensure that pledge to bring great football to our fans. I think we have some work to do though to make sure they understand that we are sorry for the frustration we put them through over the last six months, but our commitment is to bring them better football going forward. I think we ought to make sure that we understand that our bond with our fans is probably the primary issue that all of us have to keep focused on, whether you’re a player, or you’re an owner or you’re the Commissioner.”

While Goodell was giving this beautifully crafted and politically correct answer, here’s what he was really thinking:

“Hell no there aren’t any damages! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! We’re the NFL, not the NBA, MLB or NHL. Twitter literally melted into a pile of social networking goo once the lockout ended? ESPN basically threw a party live on the air. The NFL Network is covering this news conference like someone just brokered a peace deal in the Middle East. Fans are more excited for the upcoming football season than for any other season in our league’s history.

And do you know why? Because this lockout forced everyone to skip the boring parts of the offseason. How great is it that we didn’t have to endure a summer of free-agent speculation or BS stories from minicamps about how this player or that player looks really good running around in shorts and a tank top? Wasn’t it nice not having to read about how Albert Haynesworth or some other criminal in shoulder pads appears “focused” this year and wants to “put the past behind him?” We even managed to keep Brett Favre quiet until I gave him the go-ahead to start his unretirement rumors on Saturday night.

25

July

With Unanimous NFLPA Vote, The NFL Lockout Is Over

 

That wasn’t so bad now was it?

Yes folks, it is finally over.  With the player reps for the soon-to-be-again NFL Players Association unanimously approving a new CBA with slight modifications from the version the owner also unanimously approved recently, the NFL lockout is over and football is back.

Let me repeat: FOOTBALL. IS. BACK.

There are still some issues like the players actually reforming their union, but those matters will be resolved as players report to camp.  There were a few casualties on the calendar such as delayed free agency, no organized team activities (OTAs) and no Hall of Fame game but going forward the NFL schedule remains largely intact with free agency scheduled to take place as training camps open.

Players must also ratify the new CBA but there is little no doubt that they will overwhelmingly.    Once that happens, players can once again start being paid.

What remains to be determined is any long term damage to the game.  Fans will return and cheer for their teams as they have since the league was created.  The damage to the legacy of Commissioner Roger Goodell remains to be seen.  He never lost any regular season games, but he still presided over the league’s first work stoppage in over 20 years.

There will be debates over who were the big winners and losers of this new deal and the debacle that preceded it.  Now is not the time for that, however.

Today is a day for celebration, joy and a big sigh of relief. Football is back.

Get ready fans.  Free agency and training camp will be occurring at the same time.

You think the process to end the lockout was chaotic? You haven’t seen anything yet.   At least this part will be fun to watch.

——————

Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

——————

22

July

NFL Lockout Update: Owners Ratify Proposal, Players Wonder What Just Happened

It’s 11 p.m. central time on Thursday night and I’m going to watch some Japanese wrestling and go to bed. Before doing that, however, I thought I would provide a quick summary on the NFL labor front for those of you that were smarter than me and chose to not pay attention to the kerfuffle that developed Thursday evening.

If you’re reading this in the morning, there’s a decent chance something else could have occurred overnight. You probably should check out Profootballtalk.com or follow Aaron Nagler on Twitter for the latest. Both of those guys will likely spend the night monitoring the situation instead of watching Japanese wrestling.

Here’s what went down:

  • The owners voted 31-0 to approve a 10-year labor deal and gave the players until Tuesday to reform as a union and accept it. The Oakland Raiders abstained from voting because they probably realize they will go 6-10 and could care less if there is a season or not.
  • The players said they never had a chance to review the proposal and accused the owners of trying to force a deal. Many people were expecting the players to vote on some sort of proposal Thursday, but they didn’t because the players claimed to not know for sure what exactly the owner’s passed.
  • ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reported around 10:45 p.m. that the players eventually received all the details of the owners proposal and a vote could come as early as Friday. Will a vote actually happen? Who knows.
  • My take: I think one of two things happened. 1) The owner’s got sick of the player’s dilly dallying around about re-certifying as a union and other less-significant issues delaying the process and decided to approve a proposal and force the players to act in a more timely fashion. 2) The owners made a last-minute power play.
  • My other take: I’m fairly confident this thing wraps up soon. Once the players calm down and actually review what the owners proposed, I can’t imagine it being so incredibly bad that it would derail the entire process. Sure the players are probably offended that the owner’s publicly put the ball in their court, but they’ll get over it (I hope).
11

March

NFL Lockout: Owners Should Lock Out Other Owners Instead of Players

Talks between NFL players and owners broke down today before a CBA agreement could be reached. At midnight, the owners will lock out the players and fans will wonder what the heck just happened.

I am far from a labor expert. I have no idea why billionaire owners and millionaire players can’t figure out how to divide up a gigantic pile of cash. I do my best to read about the issue from both sides and come to some sort of educated conclusion. In my opinion, the owners are in the wrong this time. Bill Simmons explains why much better than I could.

Amidst all sound bites, finger pointing and fan panic, there is one thing I still can’t figure out: Why are the owners locking out the players? Shouldn’t they lock out a couple of their fellow owners instead?

The core of the CBA issue is player expenses, right? Owners are saying player expenses are rising and can’t be sustained. The players say that is BS because the NFL is the most popular sport in America and basically prints money. Nobody knows for sure who is right because NFL teams refuse to open their books.

Don’t the owners share a good chunk of the blame for rising player costs? Instead of locking out the players, wouldn’t it make more sense to lock out Dan Snyder, Al Davis and Zygi Wilf for handing fat contracts to the likes of Albert Haynesworth, JaMarcus Russell and a broken-down Brett Favre? Isn’t the short-sightedness of some owners allowing player costs to get out of control? What am I missing here?

Obviously, owners can’t conspire to keep salaries at a certain level. That’s called collusion and it’s illegal. But nobody is holding a gun to owner’s heads and demanding that they overpay guys and allow salaries to reach a level that can’t be sustained.

Yes, owners have to shell out cash to players to be competitive. They also have to spend enough to meet the salary floor (except in 2010). But that still doesn’t excuse some of the outrageous bonuses paid and guarantees given to rookies and marginal veterans.

If player costs are supposedly making the entire league unsustainable despite massive public subsidies for stadiums, TV contracts worth billions and ticket prices that increase every year, maybe it’s time to step back and blame a few owners for helping drive up those player costs.