Oh does time fly; it feels like only yesterday we were in Miami celebrating a new NFL champion. Since February we’ve seen the owners start the lockout, a brief lifting of it during the draft, courtroom battles, secret meetings and the Heat choking. We’ve seen all types of legal and labor experts giving their opinions on each side’s strategy can be very confusing and frustrating especially if you don’t have a law degree!
In any sport the worst aspect occurs during labor unrest, especially during collective bargaining agreements. The NFLPA (or whatever they’re currently named) vs. the NFL owners, is trying to secure as much leverage as possible, knowing if they make a bad deal it’ll damage one side for many years afterwards. Normally, early June would be when some of the mini camps take place and would then feature a summer break before the grind of camps begins. The NFL packages Hard Knocks as the most behind the scenes look on the inner workings of a franchise, but, I’d love to get a behind the scenes look of the labor process.
I’m not really certain of the precise optimism level I can really have with such conflicting reports surfacing daily. The owners would ideally push the players towards mid July in a do or die position for the players if they want a full camp and season. Players get paid during the season, so many players already have money saved, but once we start getting into regular season time, we could have dozens (if not hundreds) of players broke. At this point the owners would basically give the players a take or leave it deal, and if desperate enough would be forced to take a huge hit.
The statement continually drilled into us from the media is how to split of a billion dollars between the two groups. Obviously, it’s not that simple of a concept. The NFL is the most popular sport in America, but both sides have to realize that if games are missed it could be a marketing nightmare. In talking to many NFL fans, I’ve been told countless, “If we miss games or the season I’m done with the NFL”. In 1994, major league baseball had to shut down the season early, missing the World Series. The sport arguably never recovered to the previous popularity prior to the labor problems. The NHL shutdown crippled their sport to the point you can hardly find it on tv. Both sides can’t take the fans for granted during this process.
On a positive note, the Giants could be in a good position compared to some other teams during the lockout. First, the team has a stable coaching staff in place, so the players already know the plays, terminology and strategy. Next, the team features a cast of veterans, don’t forget this team finished 10-6 and barely missed the playoffs, and were mature enough they organized their own workouts. Also, the Giants have many players recovering from injury, and with the added time to heal can make more of an impact this year. Finally, with a limited free agent period it’s more likely to retain such guys like Steve Smith, Kiwi and Cofield, if they were to be declared unrestricted.
We will continue to wait for big announcement and just hope it happens sooner rather than later.