Take the Money and Run: NFL Tells Players To Save For 2011 Lockout

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on as he stands on stage during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Gathering around the water cooler was once thought of as a cliche.  When the NFLPA gets together, mind you, they put good use to the old school adage on every given occasion.

Breaking news this week has struck the NFL, with the players association announcing that a lockout is more than probable in 2011 due to many differentiating reasons.  What is the main cause for this unfortunate event?  Money, as it has finally run America's number one sport back into the ground.

If you thought it was impossible for John Madden not to smile, I suggest he isn't laughing right about now.  In a rare turn of events, the NFL has issued a league wide statement to all players suggesting that they should hold onto their final three paychecks, in preparation of a potential lockout next season.

Many people that have been following this situation may have the belief that this is all a big hoax.  In many past years we've seen the "lockout" issue brought up toward the end of each season, and although we are focusing solely on the NFL here, the NBA has also become accustom to this annual theory each year.

This time around, the NFL doesn't seem to be joking.

When a letter was sent to players by the Associated Press earlier in the week, NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith stated that the union had an "internal deadline" for coming to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Unfortunately for fans at home, this deadline was never made plainly clear.

What is clear, however, is the fact that DeMaurice Smith has told players and fans that this deadline has now passed, and that, "It is important that you protect yourself and your family." 

Compassion from the NFLPA?  It seems so, but this new found intelligence would have been more beneficial to players if they were told earlier on in the season. 

Following Smith's announcement, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah later sent out an email to the Associated Press expressing that he wouldn't comment on the situation, as the matter was supposed to be internal.

Just like many of the NFL's players, Attalah then took his thoughts to Twitter, where he revealed the truth behind the unclear issue and allowed everyone to know that the letter enclosed "an internal deadline to prepare, not for CBA negotiations." 

The discussion between the league and union was on also on Friday.

So where did these so called "letters" end up?

Strangely enough, they wound up in the New England Patriots locker room, and were spread table wide for players, coaches, reporters and officials to take a glimpse at.  The very next moments that were to unfold included a question by a reporter and the facing down of the copied letters by a Patriots spokesman.

Now, it appears, we are left with a testy situation for each individual in the league.  Keeping the theme of the Patriots going, offensive lineman Matt Light issued a brief statement to anyone willing to listen, telling reporters that each player understands how the business works, but cutting health care benefits is totally out of line.

For those old school veteran fans reading this, the last time the NFL faced this kind of financial difficulty was back in 1987 when league owners took action against a player strike and decided to find replacement players.

In 2011, seeing as though owners chose not to take part in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement two years ago in 2008, next season is already looking doubtful for September.

Last but not least, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello did every loyal fan a favor in sticking up for their league beliefs during such a turbulent time.  "It's disappointing and inexplicable, especially for fans."

"We hope this does not mean the union has abandoned negotiating in favor of de-certifying and litigating," he said. "We are ready to meet and negotiate anytime and anywhere. But it takes sustained effort and shared commitment to reach an agreement. One side can't do it alone."

The NBA may be heading for a lockout, but the NFL is already half way there.  These type of financial and labor agreements have cost many major sports their respective seasons in the past, and for all of the worrying that has gone into this situation in the past five years, it has now paid off.

Players have been told to hang onto their final three gameday pay checks, and that realistically isn't a good sign.  It may only be for one season, but this will severely impact the lives of many that are involved with the NFL.


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Ryan Cook is an Australian Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters, plus a contributing writer for Detroit Lions TalkGack Sports and Generation Y Sports.