NFL Lockout: Owner Rift Nothing New, But Might Signal Progress

That's a pretty good fake smile considering he's getting booed right here.

There have been constant rumors flying in all directions in the last week or two and the NFL Lockout rollercoaster ride continues. Here is the collective emotion that we have felt as fans in the last 72 hours or so: we start the day out with hopes high that an agreement is almost complete and we're all at our team shop buying our new favorite rookie's jersey, and then only hours later, the wheels have completely fallen off of talks and we realize that we should all just become fans of the Arena League. By the time we've finished returning our jersey, throwing our hats on the ground, stomping on them in a fit of rage and swearing off the NFL all together, Adam Schefter or whoever leaks a nugget of optimism that gets us all back on board. That was MY last few days anyway. 

For an update in the spirit of that rollercoaster, there have been rumblings today that suggest this recent rift or minority pushback in the owners group is actually a good thing, and could signal that talks are getting very close to wrapping up. Though this could simply be wishful thinking, it has been brought up in several places that we're starting to hear about the discord among owners because these owners have seen a settlement agreement on the table or at least been part of the talks in which their side offers concessions, and they don't like it. Thus, they leak their curmudgeonly paranoid opposition, citing the state of the economy and their poor investment portfolios as reasons to keep this thing going. 

In reality, this group of owners aren't likely to agree to any deal that offers one cent in conciliatory money; they'll vote 'no' simply out of principal. The good news though is that according the Associated Press, this group of owners is still not large enough to make a difference. Per the Los Angeles Times, (AP): 

"Getting the required 24 of 32 owners to agree on anything can be difficult, let alone something as complex as a collective bargaining agreement. And there has been enough pushback from owners familiar with those proposals that progress made recently might not lead to an agreement in the next few weeks.

Still, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, the faction of unhappy owners that exists is not yet large enough to derail an agreement. That could lead to heavy lobbying in Chicago at the first owners' meeting specifically scheduled to deal with the lockout."

Ray Ratto of CBS Sports brings up another point that hasn't really been talked about much during this lockout: the owners don't like each other much either. He says:

"The owners like each other far less than they like the players, and trust each other not at all. It's why all the reports of an imminent settlement always sound more like begging than fact-finding. The latest hint that the problems began, reside and will continue with the owners comes with the news that a number of owners have been balking at settlement developments for months now -- in part because they still harbor resentments over the 2006 deal, and because they want the revenue-sharing rules between themselves to be changed."

He continues, 

"In short, this is an owners' problem and always has been. The argument is not about making or losing money, but how much more and how to limit or expand sharing of that money. Thus the reports that a number of owners already hate this new deal even though it is nowhere close to being done tell us that what we have always believed about the process is true:

Specifically, that the process is 32 rich guys fighting with each other over the nature and distribution of an immense pie that would feed them all five generations out."

So in other words, you shouldn't expect these owners to get on the same page anytime soon. As long as the majority of owners can vote on a settlement that will resolve this labor dispute, we shouldn't have to worry about the dissenters. It now becomes up to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to keep that majority together. 

Per Yahoo's Jason Cole:

 

"There's a lot on the line [next] week," one owner said Friday. "I don't envy Roger's position because he has to make a lot of people happy. I think there's enough common sense out there that we'll get something done, but there are also some [owners] who still want to fight."

That's all I got for today regarding the soap opera that the NFL lockout has become. 

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