No agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL owners could be reached by today's 5 pm deadline, and NFLPA chairman DeMaurice Smith's demands of ten years of audited financial records from the owners was not met for an extension in labor talks. That means that shortly after 5 pm ET on Friday March 11, the players union decertified, leaving the players to fend for themselves for the first time since 1993.
Unfortunately, the battle billed millionaires vs. billionaires could not be won by either side. This means that now, the individual players can bring antitrust suits against the owners, but no collective bargaining can be pursued anymore since there is no collective players union anymore.
Both sides will point fingers at each other as to whose fault this impasse was, but no matter who's to blame, this conflict will now almost definitely be settled in court rather than in private. The players are no longer afforded the council of a players union or the unification of said union. The owners, however, are still in basically the same position they were in before.
The owners have already fired the first shot in the war of words—and mudslinging—that will surely follow today's developments by saying that this isn't a lockout. It's a walkout by the players. Of course it isn't a lockout yet, but the fact is that unless the players win a legal battle in court against the owners to disallow them to lock the players out and somewhat force football to be played in 2011.
There will be other factors in this sticky hodgepodge of legality and decadence, but even before this thing gets going, one thing is sure to be an outcome: we will have NFL football in 2011. As many differences that exist in what the players and owners feel entitled to, neither party will settle for nothing. Players have already been hitting each other up for money. That was reported weeks ago.
Players and owners both know that missing games means missing monster bucks for both sides. No one wants that, no matter how staunch their stances against one another appear. They both want the same things at their core, which are football and money for everyone. It will happen, so don't fret.
It's just sad that they have to bring in referees paid for with our tax dollars so that they can continue to be millionaires and billionaires at the level that they are now. The argument that the majority of players don't make QB money thus making it harder for them to make their money "stretch" is one that I have a hard time with, though.
I leave you with this: with a league minimum salary right around $310,000 for the lowest and youngest tier, I challenge any player who can't make that work for a year or two to come to average home town, USA, and make factory or restaurant pay while supporting a family on 25k-50k while paying for benefits that are less than ideal. After that, their salary doesn't look so bad.
I'll step down from my soap box now and simply say that there's too much money to be lost if they don't play that there's no way that we go without even one game in the 2011 NFL season. It's simple math: making a lot of money is better than making no money.