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NFL Lockout: How NFL Lockout Could Benefit Football in America

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09:  National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith talks with the media following meetings at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for extended labor negotiations March 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute during a 7 day extension of talks.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Patrick MangumContributor IMarch 13, 2011

The NFL negotiations reached the lockout phase at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, Mar. 11. For me, I think about two scenarios. An NFL with replacement players and a new league with former NFL players. I think it's obvious which one of those alternatives holds the most bargaining weight.

A new league with former NFL players is much more exciting than the old league with replacement players. It would be interesting to see how both situations would play out. I could imagine some players would go back to the old league eventually. Maybe a two-league professional football scene isn't a bad idea.

Why don't players form their own league? They could share ownership, give former players jobs in management. It would be a grassroots league, more like college football.

In 2008, there was a spring football league that tried to form called the AAFL. They're still around (sort of). Their mission statement is to be a not-for-profit professional league that takes the traditions, passion and pageantry of college football to the level of a major American professional sports league. I'm sure they could negotiate on the not-for-profit part. It would give the players a way to make money and play football and also to prove to owners that the need for athletes is greater than the need for owners.

I'm talking about former NFL players forming an owner-less league in which they share ownership. I know it's a Utopian idea but why not? The players could have fun again. Deion Sanders could be on the rules and competition committee. Imagine having Cris Carter as the league spokesman. Steve Young as league commissioner.

It would be interesting to see how a player-run league would handle player safety, especially big hits and headshots. Of course the whole endeavor would have to be successful if it is to be an effective bargaining chip with the owners. With success, the players could demand more of that $9 billion pie that is the NFL.

If there ends up being no big-time professional football next year, it will also be great for college football. More underclassmen will stick around because college football will be the only game in town. Former NFL players and coaches will come to college football looking for jobs as coaches, announcers and analysts. All the attention will go to this year's college football season.

Football could benefit from having some change in the monotony that is professional football in America.

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