Thursday is L-day for the NFL—as in "lockout." The CBA expires and it is widely expected that the NFL owners, who just wrapped up a last-minute meeting, will lock out the players. How the players respond is open to conjecture.
The NFLPA could de-certify themselves to open the avenue for legal help or a number of other things. Almost of the scenarios, though, wind up with a work stoppage interrupting at least the offseason schedule and maybe even beyond that.
There is no guarantee that the owners will lockout the players, though. While both sides are under a gag order and have been tight-lipped, there has been some progress made at the labor negotiations, at least according to the reports. Based upon that progress, the owners could decide to postpone the lockout while talks are taking place.
On the other hand, though reports are that while some progress has been made, the major issues are still not settled. How to divide the revenue, the amount of games to be played and a rookie pay scale are all on the table.
But let's face it, chances are there will be a lockout tomorrow. Chances are it will lead to a work stoppage. Let's just hope it gets taken care of before training camp.
This is a time where we need a true statesman, a diplomat, a person respected enough by both sides to come in as a white knight and get a new CBA done.
There is only one man who fits that bill: Ambassador Dan Rooney of the US State Department and the Pittsburgh Steelers is that man.
Rooney has been responsible for so many sensible things in the NFL, and is so widely respected by the owners, that when he talks they will listen. He can be a voice of reason and get a new CBA done.
It is not just the owners who respect Rooney, either. There is not a more widely respected owner by the players. Rooney has already come out and said the 18-game season proposal is not worth the money to him. Rumor has it that during the last work stoppage, he gave the players a key to the practice field at Three Rivers so they could practice.
You would be hard-pressed to find any player with a bad word to say about Dan Rooney. He is the man who can bring peace to the NFL and avoid the work stoppage.
We need Ambassador Rooney to come back from his assignment in Ireland. Things over there will hold for a while. We need Rooney back in the NFL, using his skill and stature to avoid a self-destructive work stoppage that could kill the goose that lays the golden eggs for his fellow owners and the players.
Come home Ambassador Rooney, the NFL needs you!