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mesaSteeler
02-12-2011, 10:41 AM
Krieger: Lockout is a lock, sadly
By Dave Krieger
Denver Post Columnist
Posted: 02/12/2011 12:13:56 AM MST
Updated: 02/12/2011 12:14:14 AM MST

On the bright side, the approaching NFL lockout might offer extra rehab time for injured Broncos receivers Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas, who face extended recoveries from major injuries.

Other than that, there's not much reason for optimism after the owners walked out of the negotiations they had demanded this week. Nineteen days from the end of the current agreement, with no new talks scheduled, a lockout beginning March 4 looks like a lock.

The conventional wisdom is it's a battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players, with the public unlikely to have much sympathy for either. In fact, it's beginning to look more like billionaire owners against the world players, related businesses poised to suffer collateral damage and pretty much anyone who balks at a $9 beer.

Considering all their high-priced legal and public relations help, it's stunning how badly the owners are bungling their end of the PR war before the labor war even gets going.

The stage was set by the ticket fiasco in Dallas at the Super Bowl, where nearly 2,000 fans who forked over small fortunes for tickets, transportation and accommodations were told their seats at the game were . . . uh . . . unavailable.

In fact, the temporary seating they were supposed to occupy had to be covered with a tarpaulin after it failed a safety inspection by the fire marshal. About 400 ticket-holders ended up watching the game on TV. Since then, the NFL has been patting itself on the back for offering compensation after the fact.

Somewhere along the way, commissioner Roger Goodell's bleating about the NFL fan experience began to sound a little hollow.

Why would the league put its reputation on the line for a few extra seats? Well, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted to break the record for Super Bowl attendance. Alas, because of that pesky fire marshal, the number of fans who could actually see the field fell just short. But at least the league has its priorities straight.

Then there was Goodell's demand at his news conference the Friday before the game that owners and players negotiate intensively to reach a new labor agreement by the March 3 expiration of the current deal.

The union agreed. The two sides met the Saturday before the game and again Wednesday, at which point the owners Goodell's side walked out, canceling Thursday's scheduled session.

Why? Well, the players proposed a 50-50 split of all revenues. Essentially, this would preserve the status quo. That may be unacceptable to owners, but it's hardly outrageous as the players' initial position.

The owners walked because they consider it a given that the revenue split must shift in their favor because of . . . well . . . you know . . . stuff.

Prove it, say the players. You're signing record TV deals. You're soaking the fan at every turn. We're the ones getting our heads knocked in. If you have genuine financial issues, open your books and show us.

Goodell and the owners dismiss this as a bargaining ploy, but their evasions don't pass the smell test. If you're going to claim you can't survive under the existing agreement when your league is an $8 billion profit machine and your stadiums, many of them publicly funded, offer luxuries Marie Antoinette would envy, you need to prove your case. Goodell's disdainful insistence that the players take his word for it makes him look like a patronizing patrician.

Meanwhile, after treating head injuries the way the tobacco industry treated cancer for many years, Goodell turned suddenly pious recently, declaring the health of players and former players a big deal. But not so big as to prevent the league from proposing to extend the season by two games.

You don't have to be a mediator to know that threatening players with a lockout if they don't agree to play more games for a smaller slice of the revenue pie while your league is booming might look a little like extortion, especially when you're unwilling to open your books to show why it's necessary.

In the end, the owners have the money and the continuing football income from TV contracts that pay even if there are no games to outlast the players. History shows that eventually the players will come crawling back, accepting whatever terms are available, when they run out of money.

But that could take a while. New union chief DeMaurice Smith will strenuously resist beginning his tenure with an unnecessary capitulation, and the owners aren't yet offering even a face-saving tradeoff.

So settle in. If the players are sufficiently determined, Thomas' torn Achilles tendon may be healed by the time the billionaires get what they want.

Dave Krieger: 303-954-5297, dkrieger@denverpost.com or twitter.com/DaveKrieger
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Fire Arians
02-12-2011, 07:54 PM
well that sucks.

NCBlackWolf
02-12-2011, 09:09 PM
Well, I am no expert on the matter but, I gotta side with the players on this one.