A Chance For Peace? … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

The labor dispute between the NFL and its players sits at one of those forks in the road that often come in this type of financial arm wrestling.

And it’s time to call in a new group of participants to turn this battle into something more understandable. Think of it in football terms, something forgotten so much in this affair. For several months now we’ve been watching a run-and-shoot offense playing against a defense built on the blitz. It’s been showboating time, fancy plays and movements, x’s and o’s dominating the field of play/negotiation. What did Gunther Cunningham call it years ago – Frisbee football, I believe. It’s been a game controlled by non-players, so to speak. It’s been lawyers and judges.

Now it’s time for real, old-fashioned football approach to the situation. It’s time for the labor blood and guts of going head to head in the pit. It’s time for the big uglies on the offensive line banging bodies with the big nasties on the defensive front … in a labor sense.

Let me provide some explanation of what I’m babbling about? On Monday, we had two developments that opened a door just a crack for possibly getting something done and turning the attention back to football and getting ready for the 2011 season.

First, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has made permanent its temporary stay that was granted back on April 29th. Essentially, it continues the lockout of the players by the league. In voting 2-1 to continue the stay, the majority of the judges basically said it wasn’t in the purview of U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson to grant an injunction to lift the lockout. That’s a victory for the league, and thus the lockout will continue into June when the court hears the league’s appeal of Judge Nelson’s ruling.

Granting the stay may provide a prelude to what the Appeals Court will rule when the league’s appeal is heard starting on June 3rd. Ownership is very happy at this point.

Also on Monday, there was a mediation session between the owners and players. Federal mediator U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan asked the owners to bring a new proposal to the table for the players. The owners agreed to do so.

That was a major upset, and the smartest thing that ownership has done in the last three months in pushing the dispute towards a viable conclusion. Reportedly, the league presented the players an “overview” of a proposal (think bullet-points on separate items of discussion and dispute.)

The players looked at the overview overnight and will come back on Tuesday with some sort of reaction. It probably won’t be good, because that’s the nature of things right now. Sadly, late Monday night the NFL poisoned the well by issuing a statement urging the players to return to the negotiating table. That the type of grandstanding ploy that drives the players to believe there’s no way they can trust ownership.

As all the legal business rolls on towards that June 3rd hearing on the league’s appeal, it’s time for the owners and players to buckle up, lock the door and spend the days between now and the third of June banging out an agreement. No self-serving statements, no silly tweaking of the other side.

The owners and players need to solve this face-to-face, with the lawyers on the sideline, rather than in the huddle. They are going to have to live together with this agreement, whenever that moment comes. It would make a lot more sense if the rules were made through negotiation, rather than imposed by a judge and a bunch of lawyers.

These two don’t need to like each other, but they do have to work together if the National Football League is to continue to grow and prosper.

Right now, the leverage belongs to the league. If the NFL is intent on solving the problem, then they will not gloat about their advantage. They will show themselves to be bigger men, protectors of the game’s long history and try to get a deal done. If they are out to break the union, they will make no move to get anything done and will sit back and prepare for their victory in the appellate court.

So keep an eye on the labor situation on Tuesday. There’s an opportunity here for both players and owners to show they really want to get something done, rather than rack up more legal expenses and make the other side look bad.

8 Responses to “A Chance For Peace? … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 17, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    Sure looks like Lawyers and Judges will end up settling this to me. My sympathy for billion/millionaires faded a long time ago. It’s the little guys that work at the stadium and the lower paid players with short shelf life that I worry about the most.

  • May 17, 2011  - RW says:

    Excellent update and overview Bob, the most comprehensive report I’ve heard, seen or read up to this point. As was pointed out, we now still see each side either suspicious or antagonistic toward the other and each apparently still wary of the other.

    It’s like two fighters going into the 15th round, circling the other and still wanting to ‘tune’ up the other guy. Doesn’t sound like the kind of environment where one could project a meaningful outcome at present, does it?

    I think the real telling issue of where this impasse will finally tip is on that issue of TV money being put on hold to the owners through an earlier ruling. Money, afterall, was the prime leverage the owners held over the players but now, as this thing goes forward, I’m beginning to think that issue has balanced out.

    In other words, both sides are starting to feel the pain of lost revenue. As old Illinois Senator Ev Dirksen once said, “When I feel the heat, I begin to see the light”. Someone has to blink first and right now, I don’t see either side likely to concede. Sadly, to be continued.

  • May 17, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Gloating or no gloating, the players need to set aside their emotions and strike a deal good for them and their families. How stupid would it be to turn their backs on a lucrative offer just because they don’t like the way it was packaged? If pride is a significant factor in evaluating an offer, then mistakes will be made. This is about money. This is about BIG money. If the owners need to beat their chests while giving away the store, let them. Try explaining to your wife and kids you walked away from millions of dollars because you were put off with the attitude of the owners—-The people who write the life’s lottery checks that never bounce.

    This is an opportunity for the players. They can get more than they dreamed of in this window of time and the owners can feel great about themselves until a year from now when they realize they offered too much. The economy is uncertain and the future is bleak. This country is on a road to bankruptcy. As the old movie says, “Take the Money and Run.” And, of course, refuse to play 18 games.

  • May 17, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    I think this whole thing is very sad in many ways. The rookie (especially first rounders)pay scale is so screwed up its ridiculous. I use our man Tyson Jackson as the classic example. He’s making over 10 million a year and has done nothing in 2 years. Iam sure by now the TRUST IS GONE on both sides. Thats the sad part. If the owners did open their books it will always work against them, so I can’t say as I blame them for that. But these guys that get permanent injuries TRULY DO NEED TO BE TAKEN CARE OF. There’s just so many things that need to be changed.

  • May 17, 2011  - el cid says:

    Bob, at this point you fourth paragraph from the bottom hit the mark. The owners and players need each other and, without lawyers, have to deal with each other after the dust settles. The sooner the better. Until this happens, no real future for the NFL, as we know it.

  • May 17, 2011  - Jimbo says:

    It’s good the owners put a new proposal on the table. It may leak out sooner rather than later the details of the offer. If the players are interested, even just slightly… is a good thing.
    It sickens me at the thought of the lockout, the stubborness, pride and greed that permeates this whole cherade. If I were king, heads would be rolling, The senators (lawyers) would be stripped of their powers and be delegated to washing laundry and peeling potatoes. The congressman (wannabee important people) or (those that think they are the smartest people in the room) should be delegated to picking weeds and darning socks.
    We will have a 2011 football season. We just need to get rid of the jackals, fools and thieves or better yet, the aptly titled song of the late Warren Zevon “Lawyers, Guns and Money. That is all.
    Go Chiefs.

  • May 18, 2011  - PAChiefsFan says:

    All we seem to hear coming out of this CBA garbage is people from both sides saying that this will only be settled by meeting and negotiating and not settled in the courts. It is difficult to take those words as anything more than hot air when they adjourn from yesterday’s meetings and won’t resume again until June 6th. Why don’t they get their butts in gear and go to work like everybody else for 5 or more days per week, every week, and get this done. I guess its difficult to take time away from the yachts and golf courses to make that happen.

  • May 18, 2011  - leo says:

    ZBob, the players union/whatever the hell they arte, have shown abolutely no interest to bargain in this whole process. Itr has only been the owners and Goodell that has said anything about settling this at the table. Boo Hoo for both sides, buit I feel the owners have been trying, and the players have been whining. Get it done.

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