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As the season drew to a close back in 2010 one thing seemed certain about the St. Louis Rams' receiving corps, weak though it was: Mark Clayton would be back on it. Clayton had been Sam Bradford's favorite target since being acquired in an emergency trade following Donnie Avery's season-ending preseason blowout, and after he was lost for the year himself both sides seemed eager to talk and even more eager to say all the right things. Enter the NFL lockout, and month after month of free agency suspended animation.
Since Clayton and the Rams' seemingly inevitable deal the Rams have drafted two wide receivers and a tight end, replaced their offensive coordinator, and heard great things about Donnie Avery, whose 40 times were perhaps the biggest news of the barren post-draft period for Rams fans. All of a sudden the Rams' receivers aren't much more of a sure thing than they were, but they are considerably greater in number. That makes it tough to see where Clayton will fit in.
We'll know soon, of course. NFL free agency this year will be a kind of nightmarish miniaturized version of same, with all the rumors and sure things and left-field-signings coming in one three-day period of exclusive negotiation with a team's free agents. it's going to be wild, whether they sign him or not.
The St. Louis Rams’ Stan Kroenke was among 31 NFL owners who voted for an immediate end to the NFL lockout Thursday morning after a week of hurried negotiation and more twists and turns than fans were hoping for. The Oakland Raiders were the only team that abstained in the final vote, but now it’s out of management’s hands and onto the players, who were set to hold a conference call later Thursday to address the news.
The players still have a long way to go before they’re ready to begin the 2011 NFL season—which looks, for the moment, like it will escape unscathed from the lockout as we know it. The truncated offseason will begin with an extraordinarily brief free agency season and an equally rough approximation of training camp and the preseason, but before all that is even available the NFLPA will have to deal with the aftermath of having decertified itself as a bargaining move in the early days of the lockout.
We’re not quite in the clear yet, but things are looking better for the NFL than they have since the end of the Super Bowl.
The NFL lockout edged ever closer to settlement Wednesday, with the players approving some kind of "conditional settlement" in their own meeting, rather than voting, as earlier expected. (Then again, maybe they conditionally voted, which—okay.) That means Thursday's owners' meeting, in Atlanta, could mean the end of the lockout only if the players' lawyers can hash out their clients' remaining issues with the owners' lawyers.
That's right: The latest official date for the possible end of the Lockout is Thursday. That's today, if you're reading this on Thursday! Harold Camping could not be reached for comment at press time, but everyone in the NFL press corps confirmed that they had sold all their belongings and stopped following other sports in preparation for this event.
The players' remaining issues are poorly understood right now, but should come clearer later Thursday, whether they're resolved or not. Jim Trotter's Twitter feed is worth following as things in the least enjoyable lockout in the history of not-especially-enjoyable lockouts grinds to a conclusion, as is SB Nation's long-suffering NFL hub.
The NFL lockout could be coming to an end shortly, but it might claim one victim near and not especially dear to the hearts of St. Louis Rams fans—the annual Hall of Fame Game they were scheduled to play against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio on August 7.
The Hall of Fame Game, the first game of the NFL preseason, would come just a week after teams are rumored to be returning from the lockout, which would lead to sloppy play at best and potentially dangerous situations at worst for players who are undertrained and perhaps underconditioned.
The NFL continues to deny the cancellation through a spokesman, but the game is, at this point, entirely contingent on the lockout ending in the next several days. After that it won't matter whether the Rams, the Bears, the NFL, and the Hall of Fame all expect things to go on as scheduled—there just won't be enough time.
If Henny Youngman ever said one useful thing about the NFL lockout, though, it was this: Take the preseason—please!
So it looks like we'll be getting a full measure of NFL Free Agency freakouts after all—with the news that the NFL lockout's resolution has come after what is reported to be an abandonment by the owners of their demand for a right of first refusal this offseason, the current scuttlebutt suggests that there will be a three-day window in which team and free agent may negotiate exclusively, at which point Drew Rosenhaus is going to get super rich.
The three-day window might enrich ESPN the most, though. What could possibly make for better 24-hour-cable-news TV? They'll have 72 hours of solid wondering about which team will retain which players, and then at least a week of wild speculation while everybody rushes for the exits.
I plan on getting in on the action by declaring a three-day exclusive negotiating window with the NFL, during which they can offer me some competitive terms for my Sunday entertainment while I discuss my future with the UFL, Arena Football, and Everywhere-else-rules Football.
The NFL lockout might finally be nearing an end. The owners and the players—the two actors in this summer's even-longer production of Strange Interlude—have reportedly agreed to most of a CBA that pleases both parties, thanks in part to a recent decision by the owners to stop pursuing a right of first refusal for teams with limbo-bound free agents. (Instead they'll get three days to negotiate, whereupon ESPN will cry hot tears of joy.)
With the financial parts of the agreement finally, uh, agreed, it seems like we might finally have a real NFL season ahead of us, just in time to get to watch some really boring NFL preseason action. But I've lost the ability to believe in the lockout ever ending—I just can't do it.
So far as I can tell by now, the NFL is some kind of collective-bargaining sport in which teams of lawyers, along with old rich men and young rich men, compete to earn the best short-term deal for themselves while playing a game of chicken with the long-term health of that very sport. I could be wrong, though—I dimly remember a goofily-shaped ball...
Did you like Inception? Have you ever considered living it? I feel like I’m about to get another kick, because I’m having yet another dream about the NFL lockout being really close to an ending for sure this time guys players and owners are totally psyched about it. Turf Show Times reports, and offers the proper dose of skepticism.
All the right things are being said: Questions about rookie compensation and the salary floor are being addressed, the small-market and big-market teams are all in the room, and—perhaps most importantly—everyone on both sides is increasingly aware of the public backlash that would come from missing the start of the regular season, and the fiscal backlash that would come from missing the otherwise-unimportant preseason.
Look, they fooled me the first time, and I fooled myself the second time, and I don’t even remember what happened the third time. But now I won’t declare the NFL lockout finished until Week 1 has gone down in the books, and even then I’ll be suspicious until Sam Bradford removes his helmet.
The St. Louis Rams, like all teams, have been barred by the NFL lockout from free agency as we know it. For the most part that's just led to a lot of spurious NFL rumors, but for the Rams it's done something very particular to their roster—it's kept them from resigning veteran wide receiver Mark Clayton, who looked like a sure thing immediately after the NFL season. Clayton spoke with a Tulsa paper about the issue, where he was catching balls from Heisman-winner... Jason White.
Apparently he'd hoped to work out an extension with the Rams after the season, but the lockout had other plans; now he's spent the rest of the offseason unemployed, while in the meantime the Rams have hired a new offensive coordinator and drafted three rookie pass-catchers of their own. Meanwhile, Donnie Avery, who he was acquired to replace, is working his way back from his own knee injury.
Clayton's less of a sure thing than he was before the season ended, but if the Rams look for a veteran receiver once they're allowed to, he's still one of the easiest bets.
Last week it looked like the NFL lockout might end thanks to an assist from the much-maligned preseason, which is such a cash cow for football’s owners that they couldn’t think to have it canceled. If the lockout goes on much longer, though, the preseason will be truncated at best.
Which means it’s time to ask if the NFL lockout is really all that bad. Sure, it’s so choked the life out of the offseason that we’ve been forced to read Plaxico Burress tea-leaves, and it’s threatening the 2011 regular season, and it’s yet another example of the toxic relationship between this sport’s flush owners and its relatively downtrodden players, but there’s something in it for us: The preseason might not happen at this rate.
Think about the games we won’t have to pretend to enjoy—the games season-ticket holders won’t have to give away to fans of whichever team is on the road in the Edward Jones Dome that night—the A.J. Feeley snaps we won’t have to live or die with. Maybe the NFL lockout really just has our best interests in mind.
Erstwhile St. Louis Rams wide receiver slash veteran presence Mark Clayton was quoted recently about the NFL lockout, suggesting that the players are happy with where things are and that the biggest remaining hurdle is not the negotiation so much as the actual implementation of everything they’ve been negotiating.
Which is good news for Mark Clayton in particular, seeing as he’s still without a job.
A free agent after the 2010 season, Clayton has been seen as a likely Rams target since before the lockout began, but in the meantime the Rams have drafted two wide receivers—Austin Pettis and Greg Salas—and telegraphed a greater reliance on tight ends with the selection of Lance Kendricks. With Donnie Avery set to return in 2011 and the rest of the Rams’ spotty corps of receivers still on the books, new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels might not have a role for Sam Bradford’s first NFL security blanket.
He’ll get a job somewhere after his promising first half with St. Louis, but I’m sure Clayton would like to know sooner rather than later where he’s going to spend the next year. He’ll enjoy the end of the NFL lockout as much as anyone.
According to the latest reports leaking out of the increasingly leak-prone NFL lockout discussions an ominous caveat could come with any deal done in time to bring the 2011 regular season forward without a hitch: Even more Thursday night games on the NFL Network, the channel so unpopular that your sports bar recently decided to carry PAX TV instead.
For a sport so devoted to its routines and the sound of its routines--Sunday and Monday Night Football are so euphonious, and the idea of waking up Sunday and watching football all day so built into the sport's appeal--Thursday Night Football has always been a glaringly obvious, painfully awkward bend in the direction of commerce. Even on something other than the NFL Network, an unlikely prospect, there would still be the matter of attempting to psyche oneself up for a random game between two potentially interesting teams with no history or even muscle-memory built up.
Consigning eight more games to the most unwatchable channel this side of the Pieces of Metal Scraping Against Each Other, and There's Rust In There, Too Network is a tough price to pay, but if it keeps those games from being canceled entirely there are worse fates.
The NFL lockout could finally be drawing to a close, if the most recent tea leaves handed out to a hungry crowd of fans, journalists, and fan-journalists is any indication. After weeks with no news, information has begun to leak out about the new collective bargaining agreement currently under debate by NFL owners. The new agreement involves some concessions from the players, but the owners give a little as well, most notably creating a strict-sounding salary floor and capping the share of the revenue they’re allowed to take at 53.5%.
The question now is whether the NFL’s owners, around whom rumors of dissent have begun to orbit, will be able to come together around the new agreement—and if they do, whether the league will be able to rouse itself quickly enough to avoid missing the start of the regular season, or putting a subpar product out there to begin the year.
Even after the lockout ends, the story of the lockout will have only begun; it’s not over until the NFL plays a season and shows off the product it was able to get onto the field after all these unproductive months.
The story about a small cadre of owners who remain unconvinced about the way the NFL lockout negotiations are proceeding—which is, aside from them, swimmingly—continues to gain steam, with Peter King writing over the weekend that it might be small-market (or, more precisely, low-revenue) teams like the St. Louis Rams holding up the deal because of how little it does to boost revenue sharing.
If speculation like that proves to be true it could be a serious bump in the road for the resurgent lockout negotiations. The last thing a new CBA needs to be this late in the process, when the 2011 season itself is threatened, is all things to all people. If it comes down to losing regular season games or not losing them, the CBA needs to be the bare minimum that would get a season in motion from the players’ and owners’ perspective, with the specifics worked out at a later date.
If the small-market teams wanted something a little more comprehensive, they should have spoken up before the lockout began—let alone before it began to encroach on summer.
In a battle between rich athletes and even richer businessman the public relations war is already lost, but the owners apparently worried about the currently positive NFL lockout negotiations—which might, if they're settled in the next month, save the entirety of the NFL's season and preseason—are not doing themselves a big favor by leaking their uncertainty to the press. Some owners apparently believe the new deal insufficient, and negotiations are being held over to attempt to cure them of that delusion.
Neither side is especially sympathetic here, but the owners in the NFL have a far better deal than any other set of professional sports owners—no guaranteed contracts despite the brutality of the sport, massive profits, and a weak union hamstrung by the relative unpopularity of the individual star in the NFL compared to the laundry. That they aren't satisfied with the current CBA is already asinine; that they want more concessions still—well, they've earned the potential losses they'll incur if the season is delayed, which is admittedly cold comfort for NFL fans tired of the lockout.
NFL lockout talks have been renewed this week, but it turns out that Adam Schefter has a little pessimism left in his bag of lockout coverage tricks—he's heard talks "almost blew up" when both sides got back to the bargaining table. Apparently lawyers had to be told to stand down, which is something I'm only familiar with from episodes of Law & Order where Jack McCoy is told he's out of order, but really the judge is out of order.
This isn't great news; it's proof that things might still be tenuous enough to cut into the regular season, which is less optimistic than things seemed when negotiations opened back up. But I'd rather have real news, good or bad, than the delays and nothingness we've had for the last several months.
Instead of that, we have Drew Brees talking about a sense of urgency and some unnamed lawyers getting at each others' throats. If Drew Brees and the unnamed lawyers get at each others' throats we might not even feel sad if the regular season is delayed.
The NFL lockout, which has—with a brief interlude for the 2011 NFL Draft—cast a terrible pall over what is usually an unpredictable, exciting offseason, could be on its way to ending sooner than anyone expected. Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports that negotiations are “80-85 percent complete,” a phrase that could prove permanently memorable if Freeman has actually scored the scoop of a lifetime. (Or permanently infamous if he hasn’t, and we all end up watching the UFL this year.)
Freeman hears both sides are making concessions, which is a major shift from the early days of the lockout, where the owners seemed determined to include the construction of a golden idol of Jerry Jones in any final CBA.
If that kind of timeline is accurate, we could see an end to lockout hostilities between players, owners, and fans before July, which had been until now the most optimistic timeline anyone was reporting. So buck up, St. Louis Rams fans—soon, instead of just speculating about Plaxico Burress, Mark Clayton, and a host of other sketchy veteran receivers, we could watch the Rams speculating about them. Officially-unofficially!
The NFL lockout continues to roll on, cutting through a swath of the NFL offseason heretofore allocated to posts about what Plaxico Burress plans to do with his newfound freedom and free agency, but the players and owners continue to talk ahead of the appeals court's ruling, which is expected sometime in July. As Joel Thorman says, the sense of pervasive gloom and pessimism seems to have lifted after recent attempts at a reconciliation on the part of both sides, but we still have little in the way of actual good news to show for all this good feeling.
The players and owners must realize by now that they're cutting into lucrative regular season time with every day that passes, and in the end that's terrible for both sides, who would hate to see a repeat of the 98-99 NBA season, which seemed to sap the entirety of the goodwill that had built up over the MIchael Jordan era, and cast a fog over the NBA that didn't lift fully for years.
The NFL lockout is a little like a black hole—the gravity is so strong that even rumors about its imminent end rarely manage to escape its pull. But Mike Freeman, at CBSSports.com, tweeted Saturday that he'd heard some genuine, intriguing, possibly legitimate rumors to the effect that a deal could be struck between the players and owners to end the lockout before the 8th Circuit court's ruling, which is due sometime in July.
As TST notes, Freeman isn't the only tweeter atwitter about this rumor—Peter King of SI retweeted that original message to add "You're on to something, Mike," which in this newly transparent media landscape can sometimes be as close as we get to confirmation from multiple reporters about the same story.
Should the NFL lockout end now there would still be an enormous amount of logistical workings-out to figure—when do games begin? How many do they play?—before the 2011 NFL season would begin. The worst-case scenario is a kind of sluggish half-season a la 98-99 in the NBA, but if the two sides and come to a deal in July they might be able to avoid something that disappointing.
The intermittent talking surrounding the NFL lockout has gotten as stale lately as the crabbed 2011 NFL offseason, with its rumors and rumors of rumors, but some genuine news has broken about a possible end to the freeze—the two sides have canceled a mediation in favor of some upcoming settlement talks. This is great news, even if both "great" and "news" are only relative by now; the St. Louis Rams might be back to entice and mildly disappoint you in time for Week One!
This is how the proper reaction to news of this change goes: Begin with an "Oh, again?" face when you see the news that they canceled mediation talks; end with a cautious-optimism face when you see what they were canceled in favor of. There's no clear end in sight to the NFL lockout, but with the end of the offseason clearly visible the two sides have a new incentive to get together with some final, realistic goals in sight. Here's hoping they can take that feeling of desperation to the negotiation table!
Finally, a victim of the NFL lockout we can all worry about: Chad Ochocinco, crazy wide receiver and possible St. Louis Rams acquisition, is mad at Roger Goodell because he can't get his cleats and gloves from his equipment manager, who as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals organization is prevented from talking to his mercurial wide receiver.
I have to say that the lockout has just gone too far when a poor kid like Chad Ochocinco who just wants to play football, ride bulls, and change his name in funny ways is prevented from going to Dick's Sporting Goods and buying cleats and gloves from the store while his players' union is locked in a life-or-death struggle with the NFL owners.
Oh, that's not it? And he could just go do that anyway? Sorry, what I meant to say is that Chad Ochocinco is a cartoon character, although I'm still kind of intrigued by the possibility of his becoming the craziest St. Louis sports figure since Marshall Faulk started insisting we call him "Trung Canidate" for a few weeks in 2000.
Kurt Warner's comments in a recent USA Today article about the NFL lockout have earned him the ire of at least one active NFL player—Chester Pitts says in a CBS Sports article that when he heard the former St. Louis Rams star's comments he was "disappointed" and "disheartened" to hear Warner make comments that seemed in favor of the owners' positions "now that he's retired and wealthy."
Warner's comments are, on their face, more pragmatic than ideological; he suggested that "The players have too much to lose. And as much as I hate to say it, at some point, the players have to give in." But Pitts, offensive guard for the Seattle Seahawks, doesn't appreciate the idea of the players giving in now because he views the lockout as "a marathon, not a sprint."
Football players are in a uniquely weak bargaining position among the three major American sports; Pitts senses that, and it's clear that he thinks an early resolution to the lockout on the part of the players would do nothing but weaken them further.
The NFL lockout ruling came out Monday afternoon; Judge Susan Nelson ruled in favor of the players, and lifting the lockout, but appeals from the owners are likely in the near future. Nelson’s ruling comes after a few weeks of deliberation that have left NFL fans in the same lurch they’ve been in all year.
If the owners’ stay during the appeal is granted, the NFL lockout could extend deep into the season; if it isn’t, the NFL would open as scheduled during the appeals. With free agency and team practices still in doubt, NFL fans are justly clamoring for anything that could lead to a more normal offseason. The St. Louis Rams, for their part, have been busy trying to sign Mark Clayton for the last several months. It’s almost going to be anticlimactic when it finally happens.
As more news comes out, expect seriously varying press releases from the NFL and the victorious NFLPA. Follow along on this storystream and at SB Nation proper.
Brandon Marshall, stabbed by his wife on Friday badly enough to require surgery, has been released from intensive care and is expected to make a recovery in the next three weeks, according to reports. Marshall, who joined the Miami Dolphins last April after a tumultuous career with the Denver Broncos, isn’t expected to be limited as a football player by the incident.
Marshall’s wife was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the wake of the incident.
This has led to a truly strange test of the NFL Lockout’s limits on contacts between a player and his team. According to a Dolphins spokesman, the team is “not allowed to have any contact with any of [its] players”, including Marshall; the NFL contends that “the team can send well-wishes or… appropriate expressions of support.”
Good support expressions: “Get well soon, Brandon. We hope you sort this situation out, and wish you the best.”
Bad support expressions: “Get well soon, Brandon. Soon enough to learn the playbook. Also, don’t bite all the way down on that cake we sent you.”
I’m sure someone in the NFL is pleased they managed to close that loophole.
The NFL lockout, a warning in the back of football's collective mind for years, now, officially began Saturday night at midnight, with the NFL owners officially voting for a work stoppage following the NFLPA's decertification earlier in the day. The NFLPA, newly reincarnated as a trade organization with no collective bargaining authority, filed an antitrust lawsuit ahead of the decision. It's the NFL's first lockout since 1987, a debacle which also involved decertification and resulted, eventually, in a season that briefly featured replacement players. Keanu Reeves could not be reached for comment, but ESPN reports that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are among the 10 players officially named on the NFLPA's lawsuit against the NFL.
The two sides had earlier extended the deadline a week, but aside from talk of an agreement on altering the rookie salary scale neither side would budge from its positions, which are currently separated by two regular season games—the NFLPA refuses to play 18—and hundreds of millions of dollars.
The regular season is a long way away, but offseason workouts are nearing their ostensible start time with no agreement in sight.
The NFLPA decertified ahead of today's CBA deadline, making an NFL lockout all but certain when the CBA expires at 10:59 CST tonight. The players association has long threatened the decertification, which allows them to attempt to block a lockout as a professional trade association, instead of a players' union. Decertification last occurred in the aftermath of the 1987 NFL strike; the move allowed them to file an antitrust suit that led to the reformation of the NFL's free agency rules.
In a statement on NFLLockout.com the NFLPA officially announced its resignation of collective bargaining rights after a week of extended negotiations between the players and the owners proved fruitless. The owners seek to reduce the NFLPA's share of revenues while pushing the regular season to 18 games, something the NFLPA has declared nonnegotiable. The two sides appeared to come to an agreement on one of the other sticking points earlier this week when it was suggested that the rookie salary scale would be reformed.
With the new CBA deadline set to expire on Friday, NFL lockout news has begun to trickle out of talks between the NFL and the NFLPA. Among the leaks are reports that the two sides have made some compromises on the rookie salary scale, which is good news for Sam Bradford and bad news for Andrew Luck, and that the sides have not compromised on the owners' desire to expand the season to 18 games, which would be bad news for a player base that's also being harangued to take a pay cut.
The rookie stuff is encouraging, as that's one of the ways in which the NFL's salary structure has long seemed the most out-of-balance. But so long as the NFL expects to get additional games out of a player's association that doesn't have guaranteed contracts I'm worried about the two sides' ability to make deep, only vaguely satisfying compromises. Until the 16-game season is back on the table for the NFLPA I'm not sure they'll come to an agreement.
The specter of an NFL Lockout still hangs over the 2011 football season, but the NFLPA and the NFL owners negotiated their second extension today, pushing the expiration of the current CBA—the de facto deadline—ahead an extra week, to next Friday. As Roger Goodell said in a press conference following the announcement, “Talking is better than litigating,” and we now have an extra week of talking to look forward to.
Yesterday’s extension was an emergency action, designed only to keep the two sides talking while they attempted to continue negotiations. This one means negotiations might be going someplace. The chances of a full NFL season in 2011 are suddenly looking better than they have in some time, although questions still remain as to how any compromise would look.
As discussed on SB Nation, the two sides had previously reached such an impasse that an extension was the only possible good news that could come out of this last week of talks. So far, so good—and no NFL Lockout.
An NFL Lockout still looms over the 2011 football season, but Thursday's deadline was averted when players and owners agreed to an oft-rumored 24-hour extension. The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA was about to expire Thursday at midnight, but despite their continued disagreements—particularly on the question of the extended season championed by Roger Goodell—the two sides will talk for at least one more day.
Unfortunately, neither side seems any closer to budging than they were the day before. Both sides have serious, structural problems with the way the NFL is currently operating, and there's not a lot of common ground between "We should have an 18-game season and pay you less" and "You should have a 16-game season and pay us more." ("We should have a 17-game season and pay you the same" doesn't fit quite so neatly as you'd expect.)
But hope springs eternal, and so, hopefully, will 24-hour extensions. Both sides still have their guns drawn, but neither has any desire to pull the trigger and get all that fan angst on their nice new shirt.
The NFL Lockout deadline is less than a day away, but Adam Schefter is now reporting that an extension of the end of the CBA is now a distinct possibility, and something that the owners in particular are pushing for. That seems to put their resolve to carrying this lockout through in doubt.
With actual agreement unlikely at this late hour, an extension is the best possibility for fans hoping to see an unabbreviated NFL season in 2011. But it’s also the best possibility for the players and owners, if only they can come to an agreement in time to facilitate it.
Both sides have so much to lose here that I can’t imagine a lockout resonating well with either constituency; sports labor disputes have never been popular with the general public, and the NHL and NBA lockouts proved disastrous for their respective leagues, not to mention the MLB strike. The NFL is less about individual players than the NBA or Major League Baseball, but a lockout would only sow more distrust among football fans.
Owners and players will meet Thursday for a last time before a possible NFL lockout occurs at the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, but don't expect no news to be good news—reports have emerged that Roger Goodell has mandated media silence for both sides of this long-brewing labor dispute ahead of the midnight deadline.
Wednesday was a day of negotiations marked by very cautious optimism, allowing for today's meeting, but a deal still seems far away; some are suggesting that the best possible outcome at this point is for both sides to agree to an extension of the deadline, which would mean, at least, that each side imagines the possibility of forward momentum in these glacial talks.
Both sides have their nuclear options at the ready; the owners are prepared to initiate a lockout and there have been suggestions that the NFLPA might consider decertification if the rest of its options are exhausted. Either option carries with it a threat of engendering public anger over the proceedings, which is the last thing the NFL and the NFLPA wants to see.
With an NFL lockout looming Thursday at midnight, when the current CBA between the players and owners expires, some vague hints of good news have begun to leak out of talks. A tweeter from SI.com reports that today's meetings went "better than expected", but given how little was expected in the first place that could mean anything.
Of course, earlier this week the NFL's general counsel said that better-than-expected talks might lead to an extension of the deadline, averting the first NFL lockout since 1968 and giving the two sides—neither of which stands to gain much from a delayed season, which could be disastrous—more time to negotiate.
Given the distance between the two sides, there's little else for football fans to expect. It would be a shame to see the season opener in doubt when St. Louis Rams fans finally have reason to look forward to it; a 2008 or 2009 lockout would have been considerably more appealing, in hindsight.
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