With the decertification of the Player's Union, the 2011 season is in doubt. Arena Football, UFL, Canadian Football, or even marathon Madden ’12 sessions won’t fill the void. Imagination takes over as litigation/negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement becomes our football. This might be how it plays out:
Play-by-play Announcer: Hello and welcome to the first ever CBA Bowl presented by Ford Trucks, the official vehicle of the NFL. Today the dominant Owners will take on the hungry Players Association. At stake, a huge share of the billions and billions of dollars of revenue. This is expected to be a very contentious battle for the bucks.
Color Analyst: Right you are. In fact, even before the first play the animosity grows because the money from the game’s sponsor is going only to the owners! That’s money the Players believe they are entitled a share of. As if they weren’t riled up already, now the Players are livid!
Play-by-Play: The emotions will only make this game more interesting. Well the opening kickoff sails into the end zone for a touchback. Leading the Owners is QB Roger Goodell. Goodell, or as the Owners call him, the Commish, quickly took control of the team and proved to be a tough, no-nonsense leader.
And the owners waste no time attacking, imposing their will with their 18-game season offense, forcing it down the Players’ throat. Early signs look like there’s little the Players can do to stop it.
Analyst: The Players knew it was coming, but still have no answer for it. And you can see the effect this methodical approach is having on the Players. Practically after every play, there’s another Player being helped off the field with another injury. This punishing 18-game season offense is wearing the Players down quickly.
Play-by-Play: Methodically the Owners drive down the field and score on the opening drive, and what a drive it was! It takes up the whole first quarter: 80 yards on 18 plays for a 7-0 lead. And look at the defense on the Players’ sideline! They look beaten down.
Analyst: That’s what the 18-game season offense can do to a team. You wonder if the Players can continue to play or if their will was beaten out of them on that drive.
Play-by-Play: The Owners kick the ball into the end zone for a touchback. Under center for the Players Association is DeMaurice Smith. He lacks experience as the leader of the Players Association, but he doesn’t lack confidence. He won’t back down to the Owners and he expects the P.A. to stand up to the owners with him.
Analyst: Smith can be confident because a lot of veteran players put their faith in him, including the center, Kevin Mawae. Before the season Mawae said he retired! But he’s on the field right now because this game is too important to him and his teammates. Mawae has one more game left in him.
Play-by-Play: Smith lines up in the shotgun, takes the snap, toss right, into a reverse, make that a double-reverse, two laterals, back to Smith, and he throws deep! Hines Ward is all alone! He catches the ball! 20, 15, 10, 5, touchdown! What in the world was that? I’ve never seen anything like that before! Let’s go down to our attractive sideline reporter. Maybe she knows what just happened.
Attractive Sideline Reporter: Guys, it’s called the “Let Us Play” play. The Players Association knows they can’t take on the Owners head-on, so the idea is to make a plea to the fans and get them on the Players’ side. If this advertising campaign works and the fans favor the Players, it will distract fans from the fact that the Players are greedy too. Back to you.
Analyst: Wow, the Owners were completely caught off guard by that play. They didn’t see that coming. And look at Ward in the end zone, leading the “Owners are Hypocrites” chant. The fans are charged up, and so are Ward’s teammates.
Play-by-Play: We have a game on our hands! And after two quarters, the game is tied, 7-7. We’ll be back after the halftime show, brought to you by Coors Light, the official beer of the NFL. (Which means more money for the Owners because Players can’t pitch alcoholic beverages.)
Play-by-Play: The Owners have the ball to start the half and this drive looks much like their first drive as they pound away at the Players. Another run up the middle…no, it’s a play-action pass, Goodell throws over the middle and completes the…OH NO! The receiver was crushed just as the pass arrived! He’s on the ground, and he’s not moving. Here comes the training staff.
Analyst: You never wanna see that. The receiver had his eyes on Goodell and the pass. Coming in the opposite direction was the defender. Who was that? Oh, it’s Brandon Merriweather. Merriweather led with his helmet! Take another look at the replay. Yup, Merriweather takes a few steps and hits the receiver with the crown of his helmet right under the chinstrap.
Play-by-Play: And the officials agree. After a brief huddle, referee Chris Nowitzki throws a flag. Here’s the announcement.
Chris Nowitzki: Personal foul. Helmet-to-helmet hit by number 31. 15 yards. Automatic first down. Number 31 is ejected from the game.
Play-by-Play: Oh! This has to be a first! A player thrown from the game for a helmet-to-helmet hit! Merriweather can’t believe it.
Analyst: But those are the rules, officials always had the power to do it. Nowitzki takes head injuries very seriously and he won’t tolerate play that puts players at risk.
Play-by-Play: Thankfully the receiver is on his feet and walking off the field. The training staff took his helmet away so it doesn’t look like he will be returning to the game. We have another report from our attractive sideline reporter.
Sideline Reporter: I’m here on the Players’ sideline and while the game is very serious to them, some players are still very relaxed out here, not too caught up in the moment. I’m playing catch with some members of the New York Jets. I’d have to say, I don’t think one of them is a quarterback because they keep throwing the ball over my head! I’m constantly turning by back to the Jets players, running after the ball, and bending over to pick the ball up to continue the game of catch. The Jets sure are enjoying this game of catch.
Play-by-Play: Please stop that. Goodell is looking in your direction and by the expression on his face, Goodell doesn’t like what he sees from the Jets’ players.
After three quarters, the game remains tied, 7-7. The teams are getting feisty with one quarter left to go and the game still in the balance.
Play-by-Play: Since that hit by Merriweather, this game has gotten ugly. In this quarter alone we’ve seen eight personal foul penalties. There are Players and Owners shoving each other and trash talking after almost every play. We knew it would an emotional battle but now the two sides are ready to cross the line.
Analyst: We could see this bubbling all game long, but I think part of it is frustration. Since that first drive, the Owners haven’t made any progress with their 18-game season offense as the Players won’t budge anymore. And for the Players, they rely on the contributions from a lot of rookies, but so far those rookies haven’t done anything! It’s a clever strategy by the Owners calling a rookie salary cap defense that’s really restricting the rookies from running freely all over the field as if they’re instant millionaires.
Play-by-Play: We have another update from our attractive sideline reporter.
Sideline Reporter: Guys, I have some breaking news to report. I just received a message on my phone from Brett Favre. It’s titled, “I still have game left in me.” It sounds like he’s having second thoughts about retiring. There’s an attachment to this message and it shows…Ahhhhh! Ugh…I didn’t need to see that. Forget it guys, he’s retired. Back to you.
Will There Be a Lockout?
Play-by-Play: Um, ok. I don’t know what that was about, but I’ll leave it at that.
Seconds left in the game and the Players are lined up to try a Hail Mary. Smith drops back and throws it up…to the end zone…and…the ball falls incomplete with no time left. We are going into overtime!
Analyst: This game is unbelievable. Both teams have been aggressive all afternoon, trying to get an advantage. But each side had answers and counters to whatever came their way. It’s only poetic justice that this game goes to overtime.
Play-by-Play: Goodell, Smith and the team captains are at midfield for the coin flip. But even before referee Nowtizki tosses the coin in the air, they started shouting, pointing, getting in each other’s faces and now it’s an all-out brawl! And here comes the sidelines! What happened?
Analyst: It started when Nowitzki was explaining the overtime rules. The players thought it would be sudden death. The Owners want the revamped overtime rules where a field goal doesn’t end the game on a first possession.
Play-by-Play: The officials are overwhelmed trying to get control of this chaos. They’re gonna need help from security. We need to take a break until both sides are broken up and things settle down.
Randolph Charlotin writes a New England Patriots blog at www.randolphc.com His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.