As NFL labor talks continue to stall—making an impending lockout more and more likely—it is time to start pointing fingers and spreading blame.
The league opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2008. That means the two sides have had three years to get a new deal done.
The fact that we're even sitting here in late February a few weeks from a lockout means there has been failure on both sides of the table. The owners and the players' union have not taken this seriously enough and have not done nearly enough to get a new deal done.
I can understand why there was no urgency prior to last year, but once the clock started ticking on the final league year under the current CBA, it was time to get a deal done as quickly as possible. When talks virtually stalled last fall, a mediator should have been brought in to get the two sides talking.
Over the last month, we've seen both sides really begin to posture and nothing either side has said or done has helped the situation.
The players' union is talking antitrust lawsuits, while the NFL has already charged that the union hasn't been bargaining in good faith.
Point to the NFL for that lawsuit because nothing the union has done in the last few months should lead anyone to feel differently. The union is spoiling for a fight, and it's a pointless fight because the owners have the upper hand.
Which Side Are You On?
Relatively speaking, the players stand to lose more in the short-term than the owners, so why they've decided to take such a combative stance doesn't make much sense.
From the owners' standpoint, locking out the players only impedes the success of their clubs, so again, nothing anyone has done lately makes any kind of real sense.
The owners are taking a PR hit this week because Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson decided to be as idiotic as he possibly could be. However, let's not excuse the union and people like Jeffrey Kessler, who spout a lot of nonsense and do nothing to get a new deal done.
The players want to play, but they have to understand this is a business. Unions always want more, but at some point, the owners have to say "enough." That's what they did in 2008 and that's what we're dealing with now.
The players had a great deal, no doubt about it, but they're naive if they think the league was going to let that deal continue forever. Without getting into boring detail, the players were getting a big piece of the pie—bigger than the owners intended. Now the owners want some of that pie back.
It's the way of the world and history has shown the owners will win. The key for the players here is to take what they can get and get back to work. This CBA is done and, to quote Goodfellas, "There wasn't nuthin' we could do about it."
The players need to take anyone who is more interested in talking "war" than negotiating and find something else for them to do. The owners need to take anyone who is more interested in throwing their weight around than doing what's right and find something else for them to do.
Anyone who isn't part of the solution is part of the problem and should be asked to leave the room.
When the only people at the negotiating table are people who want to make a deal, a deal will get done and the NFL can get back to not killing the golden goose.