Word spread quickly late yesterday that NFL was back in business as the owners, led by commissioner Roger Goodell, held a news conference. All sounded great during the news conference (read the NFL's press release here).
We were given tentative dates when various business activities such as free agency, training camp and open facilities would occur. Of course this all hinged on the players also agreeing to the deal. But since this was a deal that both parties had been working on then that was a no brainer…right?.
Just as people were about to pour into the streets around the country to celebrate the return of football the scam that the owners were trying to pull off came to light.
The owners did not agree to a deal, they approved their own plan. They then put on a dog and pony show for the fans. Now this is either one of the gutsiest moves or dumbest moves we have even seen in a labor negotiation.
Thirty-one owners agreed to this deal, with Al Davis abstaining. OK, the fact that Al Davis thinks that a plan is too crazy to even vote on, should have made the other owners think a little more on this.
Their goal was to obviously put the public pressure on the players. After all, the owners have agreed to a “deal” and have brought football back to the masses. If the players decline or even hesitate on this deal then they, the players, are withholding football from the fans.
Did the owners mess up?
Can you see the owners, all dressed with angel wings and halos, wagging their fingers at the players as they point out how they agreed to such a generous deal but the players are messing it up?
The odd part about this move is that the two sides were very close to a deal anyway. So why would they risk such a quick power play move?
The owners hope for three things to result from such a move.
One, they hope that fans would forget that the owners were the ones to opt out of the last contract and started the lockout. This move, they hope, shows that they were the first to offer the truce, they were the bigger and less greedy group and that indeed, they were the ones that brought football back. They will be the heroes in the public eye.
The second result that they are hoping for is that with public pressure now on the players, the players will cave and agree to the deal. Now this is not a completely new deal, most of the points within it have been agreed upon by both parties.
There are some issues still left open, however, and that could be a sticking point. But by forcing the issue like this, they can hopefully get the players to just accept the rest, therefore benefiting the owners.
The third reason is straight up money. If they can get the league jump started quickly then no games, preseason or regular, will be missed with the exception of the Hall of Fame game. If the lockout continues much longer then preseason games will start falling. Missing any game means losing money and the owners want no part of that.
During the press conference, the various league representatives touted on how this was such a great 10-year deal in which the two sides would be business partners and such. They seemed to be trying to paint of picture of owners and players skipping through a meadow hand in hand.
This move, however it plays out, will stop any such good will from happening. You do not create a partnership by backing the other side into a corner and trying to make them out to be the bad guys in the public eye.
The spotlight is now on the players.
Do they agree to this deal or continue to negotiate the final couple of points? As the excitement of yesterday’s announcement has simmered down and people realize what the league was trying to pull, then the pressure will ease on the players to quickly agree.
In the end, the league will likely lose out as there will be at least one preseason game missed. The public will see through their scam and whatever final issues there are will now be battles. The owners have shot themselves in the foot on this one.