Congratulations NFL! You did it. What had been widely expected for quite some time finally came to fruition this evening. You have yourself a lockout. Players and owners can share the blame on this one no matter how much either side will tell you they are the ones being hurt the most. Don't believe a word that comes out of their mouths. It's a case of millionaires vs. billionaires. Let the court battles and the battles of opinion begin.
If you side with the players, which I'm sure some of you will, you believe the owners are greedy, which they are. You believe the owners aren't offering what is best for the game. When it comes to fans, they just might be. They want an 18 game schedule, the players do not for fear of injury and also, you guessed it, for fear of lack of salary support for the extra two games. I get that. Personally, I would love to see 18 games count. Four preseason games is way too many. Two is enough. By the time most teams have played two games, they've been in camp almost a month anyway. You should know what you have.
If you do create an 18 game schedule, expand the rosters. The players have mentioned that before and that I will agree with. Apparently yesterday though, the NFL offered to play a 16 game schedule for at least the next two seasons. The players union balked at that. This is where I feel like no matter what the NFL offered, the players wanted to decertify and take the NFL to court and get everything they wanted. It is as if they planned for this outcome and the bargaining was to garner public support because now they can come out and say at least they tried.
As for the owners, they are the rich just trying to stay richer. I do not side with them either. They don't want to open their books. They don't want to properly insure their players. They want to keep an extreme imbalance of revenue between themselves and the players. Basically, they want to keep most of the profits. The players are what make the game popular and what drives the revenue. I'm pretty sure no one watched the Super Bowl to see if Dan Rooney was going to cheer from his suite. I can guarantee you no one is watching the Arizona Cardinals to see what Bill Bidwill or Michael Bidwill does next.
Bottom line is, we all saw this coming. As I've been saying for months, all the bargaining and the extensions, it just delayed the inevitable. The writing was on the wall months ago. There was never any intent on avoiding this lockout. It was all for public show. Now the only thing this lockout does is doom the Cardinals and the NFL.
For the Cardinals, they can't go get their quarterback in free agency. They will most likely be stuck having to draft a QB in the draft now to ensure they have someone new for next season. Problem is, they have so many needs, they can't be all addressed through the draft. You also want to see that veteran QB acquired through free agency or via a trade. Chances of that happening how the Cards and their fans want to see it are now diminished quite a bit.
As for the NFL, a lockout can only hurt them. Being the most popular sport amongst American sports fans, it can recover from a lockout. Fans will come back, but they will be angry. The NFL is probably counting on that. I wouldn't count on it coming back as fast as they think though, especially if an agreement isn't reached until fall or even next year, which would wipe out the 2011 season. Fans can flock to the college game, which, if the NFL is still in a lockout come September, is going to reap all the benefits. MLB will also reap some of the benefits. The fans lose out here though no matter which side you are on. The fans have helped the NFL gain this huge revenue pot. If no one watched, the NFL wouldn't be fighting over money. If no one watched, the NFL would not exist.
It is a sad state of affairs. I'm afraid this one might get ugly. Real ugly.