Now that they're done extending the extension, it's time to talk the real issues. Because of the leverage of decertification and their advantage in front of the judge in the court they would file an antitrust lawsuit in, the players have essentially stopped the owners from being able to lock them out.
With the extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, I truly believe they can get a deal done in a week from now. If not, they can extend again for another two weeks or so to keep the pressure on without bringing on the bad will that comes with a lockout or decertification and the legal system.
A week ago, I would have told you that you were crazy if you said a deal would be done before the end of March. I'm now giving it a 65 percent chance that there will be a new agreement by the end of this month.
What you have to realize is that this negotiation could take five minutes to complete. It goes something like this.
Owners: We will lower our expense credit demand from $2 billion to $1.5 billion. In return, we want a rookie wage scale.
Players: We'll allow you to do a rookie wage scale, but we want the money that is leaving the system to be put back for the veterans.
Owners: We'll give you 75 percent of that money, but we want to keep the current pension and health benefits at their current levels.
Players: Fine, then we're playing a 16-, not 18-game schedule because we can't afford to shorten our careers.
And that's it. Write it up. Get 'er done.
The important aspect of what was done through the mediation and more importantly through the decision made by Judge Doty in Minnesota, which said that the owners shouldn't be able to collect $4 billion in TV revenue even if there was no season, is that it softened up both sides.
They are now ready to talk, which as negotiators know, is more than half the battle. The talking is easy. The bad will, the games that both sides play, that's what causes most work stoppages.
I really think we're going to have football this season and it's probably not even going to be a hurry up offense to get to the first game.
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