seasons. But already we've seen the effects of both sides' inability to extend the Collective Bargaining Agreement which is set to expire after the 2007 season.
Just Thursday morning, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, after the owners unanimously rejected the NFLPA's latest proposal, said, "The situation is as dire as dire can be."
So dire, that instead of steadfastly holding on to Thursday night's 11:01 p.m. (CST) deadline for teams to be under the projected $94.5 million salary cap for 2006 and to start free agency under duress on Friday, the NFL announced a three-day delay to the start of the 2006 calendar year, obviously hoping to bat out a CBA extension.
And if no agreement is struck by 11 p.m. Sunday, then why not extend the delay?
Makes sense, no? Is this not a league of their own? You make the rules.
Who really wants to face an uncapped year in 2007? The possibility of a strike in 2008? The probability of the NFLPA decertifying and the NFL landing in court for anti-trust violations? Who wants to deal with a $94.5 million salary cap if an extension means a $105 million salary cap?
And from the players' standpoint, who wants to land in free agency with so many teams cap strapped, and a lot because those Not Likely To Be Earned Incentives which normally charge against the cap the next year if earned would be charged this year, regardless? Who would rather become a free agent after six accrued seasons if next year is an uncapped year instead of the current four required? Who wants to fund their own 401K plans and pay their own health insurance premiums, as would happen in an uncapped season?
Then in 2008 . . . don't even ask. See N-H-L.
All gives you tired head just thinking about this.
See, the fathers of this current CBA purposely installed "poison pills" into this grand formula as incentive for both sides to prevent the expiration of the labor agreement as happened in 1982 and 1987. It would be a lose-lose proposition. The golden goose as some owners refer to the league's state under a very equitable labor system - the league that works - would be feathered and fried.
Neither Tagliabue nor Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFLPA, want that to be their lasting legacy - bad-will hunters. You would think.
So now we can all hold our breath another 72 hours until Sunday, the other start to the NFL league year. And who knows, there might be another delay. And another. Avoiding the repercussions of an expiring CBA would seem to be well worth their while.
Even though I'd been on vacation for the past week or so, never did it seem - to me, at least - Thursday's was a drop-dead deadline. Made no sense. And makes no sense for either side to plummet this league into the unrest that awaits down under the cliff they now are playing tag with.
I mean, where were these guys in 1987? Didn't they see?
Well, silly me, ownership in the league probably has turned over by nearly 70 percent since those dark days. The players, now that Vinny has retired, bet none of them know. They weren't playing. They never walked a picket line. They never carried a sign disparaging the heritage of a "scab player." They never missed - oh my - a paycheck. They never had to stare down a teammate.
Kids, these days.
But let me tell you, I saw. I sure did. Was right there on Cowboys Parkway, and then a month later, right here in the locker room at The Ranch. Some things are irreparable.
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