The big lock-out news from yesterday was a decision handed down by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In it, the court overturned a U.S. District Court’s ruling to lift the lock-out. It wasn’t exactly a landmark ruling. Basically, it means absolutely nothing. For one, there was already a stay on the lock-out anyway. Secondly, very few thought that this lawsuit would see the light of day in the first place. It’s mostly a formality. Hopefully, the new CBA will be agreed upon at the negotiation table, not in a court room. Of course, if De Smith and Roger Goodell were to start throwing hay-makers at each other today and the negotiations broke down, this court decision might end up actually meaning something.
The good news is that, at this point, a complete breakdown seems extremely unlikely. According to many reports, the NFLPA and the owners have been very close for several days. No doubt if this thing gets fought out in the courts, the time and financial losses would be enormous. You have to think this is forefront in the minds of everyone involved in this awful lock-out. So, more than likely, as the deadline for training camp and the preseason approaches, both sides will probably become more likely to make some concessions. We are talking about ungodly sums of money here.
From the sound of things, there are two big sticking points in the negotiations. Obviously, very few know the specific details, but it seems like the owners’ are pretty set on there being some sort of rookie pay cap and would like to maintain first right of refusal on some of their impending free agents. Naturally, the players are balking at these demands. Again, I don’t know what the owners are asking for specifically, but the right of first refusal seems like something the players should have a problem with. As for the rookie caps, I can’t disagree with the owners. It’s absurd how much first-rounders are getting paid these days. Especially considering how many of them never pan out.
Regardless of who is in the right on these issues, rookie pay caps and free agency rules seem like something that the two sides should be able to work through. Certainly, free agency has pretty much been the central issue in every sports labor dispute ever, but the NFL has had a decent system in place for a long time. Unlike baseball, teams don’t have to pay top dollar to compete, and even though as a Cowboys’ fan I realized that we would benefit greatly from a baseball type financial system, I also recognize that parity is good for the sport. Surely, a breakthrough is imminent.