The world’s most powerful professional sports league is in its fourth month of labor-related lethargy, with NFL owners and players locked in a multi-billion-dollar stare down. Anxious for free agency and weary of the war of words, the eyes of football fans around the world are starting to glaze over.
In other words, the owners and players have you right where they want you.
Despite a breakdown in communication and trust that boiled over last week, the two sides are closer to an agreement than many people realize – perhaps than even some of the people involved realize. That the respective negotiating teams hung in amid the negativity and held a marathon session Thursday and a shorter one on Friday was a deceptively positive sign.
As the owners and players prepare to reconvene this week in New York City following the Fourth of July holiday, a deal is very much there for the making. And if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and their respective table mates can pull it off in the next few weeks, they’ll all be heroes, and this Lost Offseason will be forgiven and forgotten before you can say fantasy draft.
There has been a lot of heavy-handed rhetoric thrown around since the NFLPA decertified on March 11, Tom Brady(notes) et al. filed their antitrust lawsuit against the league and the owners locked out the players – some of it by yours truly – and there’s a tendency to assume that all parties concerned will suffer irreparable damage from the bloody standoff.