I want to start today with a guy who can be a fair referee to both players and owners. He was a player, a very good one, and now he's close to lots of players, and to key people on both sides. He's part jock, part lawyer, part E.F. Hutton. And one great color man. And he has a thoughtful, plaintive wail for everyone in this labor mess:
"Is this really what we want -- judges determining so much about the future of the National Football League?'' Cris Collinsworth said over the weekend. "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 other day, I noticed Collinsworth had written on his website, footballpros.com, and tweeted that his best guess for the start of the NFL season was early November. Then there'd be a nine- or 10-game regular season, then the same number of playoff games. So I reached out to him to see what he meant.
This disclaimer right up front: I've known Collinsworth since 1984, when I covered him on the Bengals in Cincinnati. Now I work with Collinsworth and consider him a friend. We've beaten each other up on many topics over the years, but that's why I like him. I can tell him he's nuts, and usually he likes it; we did it a lot at HBO and then NBC before he left the studio and went into the play-by-play booth. But I understand if you're sitting there thinking I'm not going to be impartial or I'm going to paint Collinsworth in a good way. I am -- but that's because what he's saying makes a lot of sense.