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Lockouts Showing Who is Always On The Losing End

Allow me to speak for every NFL and NBA fan (which I am not really one of) when I say, end the lockouts.  I know there is a supposed end to the NFL lockout coming next week, but are we sure that date is set in stone?

Get it figured out, do not miss any of the season and just play ball.

While I understand the reasons for the work stoppages & lockouts, as a fan of football I want this to get settled and figured out as quickly as possible.  For basketball fans, you have a little time but not too much time.  That one should be over soon as well.  But all fingers point to non-favorable odds.

In the same breath, I am not going to stay glued to the television, internet and newspaper like this is some breaking news story.  Just get these issues solved and let all of us fans know when you are done so we can watch our teams again.  Let us know so we can prepare for fantasy leagues and get our gear together for tailgating.

When the battle is millionaires (players) versus billionaires (owners), it is difficult to pick a side. Most of America and myself are on the side that ends these lockouts and gets them back on the field and court ASAP.  More importantly, I am on the side of the fans who are always the silent majority in these cases.

Maybe if our side had seat at the negotiating table then these issues would get solved a little quicker.

While these lockouts are more complicated than strictly millionaires versus billionaires, money is basically what is keeping the leagues from operating as normal. But it is hard for fans to care about millions of dollars being exchanged when some struggle to make ends meet on a weekly basis.

Reaction to the lockouts have been mostly passive so far but if regular season games are missed due to the work stoppage then expect the fans to ignite with anger. Fantasy football owners are already starting to undergo anxiety and withdrawal symptoms because their annual shot to look like a football genius with a witty team name is in jeopardy.  But in one week, that could all change, supposedly.

With the NBA only entering a lockout a few weeks ago, the NFL has seen the effect that the work stoppage has had so far. One year after setting an NFL Draft record of 8.3 million viewers, viewership fell to 7 million for the first round this year. Ticket sales are down and NFL.com’s traffic has decreased also.

Luckily for football fans, the NFL has too much to lose for them to miss some, if any, of the regular season. As America’s new favorite pastime, NFL reigns king over all other American sports in terms of viewership, revenue and popularity. Missing regular season games would kill part of the momentum that the NFL currently has.

With most training camps supposed to start soon, these next few weeks will be essential in ending the NFL lockout so that the season can semi-start on time. There has yet to be a free agent period and once that happens mayhem will occur with teams scrambling to sign players. If you are upset about preseason games possibly being missed, well you are on your own there.

For the NBA, things look even bleaker. Former NBA legend and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley recently stated that, “It’s going to get ugly. I’ve already been on the record saying I don’t think they’re going to play at all next season.” Those cannot be good words to hear for NBA fans.  The last time a league halted play was the NHL in 2004-2005.

But with the NFL and NBA lockouts in full swing it gives other sports attention they might not have gotten before. The MLB slides into the top sport and should be able to continue to build off of its strike in 1994-1995. Other sports organizations such as the NHL, MLS, WNBA, NASCAR and PGA all stand to benefit from the NFL and NBA work stoppages.

Entering this fall, the NCAA counterparts of the NFL and NBA will garner most of the attention and might be the only national exposure of both basketball and football if the lockout continues.  NCAA Football 12 was just released for all game systems.  Madden 12 comes out in a few weeks.  Some might look forward to that more than the regular NFL season.

But hopefully for the sake of both sports’ fanbases the players and owners work out their issues and not only do what is best for the sport, but for the people who help support and fund them, the fans.

Players & Fans Wait Together On End To NFL Lockout

When sports crown a new NBA champion & NHL Stanley Cup winner, it begins the summer sports lull that is usually filled by the start of NFL mini-camps and the start of training camp.  A buzz normally fills the air on what teams are looking good in training camp, even before the preseason opener.

This year is different. This year we are being submitted to endless baseball highlights & whatever else ESPN can show during SportsCenter due to continued arguing over a billion dollar industry.  A summer that should be filled with players and teams preparing for gridiron battle.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced his pay to $1 for the duration of the lockout. With each passing day not being paid, players miss out on crucial practices and playing tim. However, fans have it much worse: they are stuck at home with no hope of a Super Bowl come January. Stuck with Packers fans bragging about their epic title run.  Stuck talking about a season that may never come.

Goodell says that the lockout isn’t just to benefit players and owners though; fans will benefit as well.  Fans never benefit when players and owners talk about what money they are owed.

Fans wait to make certain decisions before the season starts.  What single games do they want to purchase, what away games to attend, what to buy in preparation for tailgating, when to buy that new HDTV, and other decisions usually made before football begins.

Certain fans have already given up their season tickets.  Some have had it with riisng ticket prices and others just feel the lockout was the last straw in seeing how little the fans mean to the NFL.  Some Jets fans have not just given up their seats, but trying to sell their PSL’s as well.

“That’s why we are trying to get a better economic model” Goodell told reporters last week. “And I think everyone understands that. You (the fans) are not being left out of the equation. The fans are a big part of that equation and a big part of the success of NFL football.”  He sees costs being passed down to the fan that would be prevented with a better business model.  Costs are already too high so any economic change for the fan is good.

Free agency is a critical time for teams to acquire new players to help supplement their squad. The big signings that occur every year and change the landscape of the NFL excite fans for the coming season. This is when we can stop talking about the Super Bowl champion and have a reason to feel that this year is different.

Last year former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was probably the biggest name amongst free-agent signees. Peppers went on to be a contributor for the Chicago Bears with 8 sacks against constant double teams. Bears fans were sure they were on the right path to win the big game.

Kenny Britt awaiting judges decision. Credit: NJ.com

This year it’s supposed to be whatever team can land Nnamdi Asomugha, a cornerback who has proven that he can shut down half the field. Unfortunately, he won’t find a home until the lockout finally comes to an end.  Same goes with the NFL rookies.  Drafted by their new organizaton, they can not be signed or talked to.

Our favorite players are also getting into trouble because they have too much time on their hands.  Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was charged with resisting arrest and tampering with evidence this week when he crushed a joint as police approached him.  The police didn’t find any drugs on him, but this is likely a situation that would have been avoided if players were focused on the season.

Now the Titans are entering the season with a diminished receiving group and are likely facing another sub-par year.  Less time to work with coaches, less time to improve.

Former Giants and Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress just got out of jail but can’t sign with a team because of the lockout.  The best he can do is workout and practice with others so he can get into some kind of playing shape.

Formerly a dynamic game changing receiver and Super Bowl hero, Burress will enthuse the fans of whatever team he goes to – if and when he does actually get signed.

I hope Goodell is sincere that the resulting post-lockout business model reduces costs that are being passed down to fans. We are the reason the league is so successful, and the more of the league year us fans lose to the lockout the more interested we will become in things not related to the NFL.  Goodell should learn from what happened to MLB and the NHL.

Whose Business Hurts If There is No 2011 Football Season?

Tuesday nights I am a panelist on Pro Football NYC presented by Football Reporters Online that airs on Blog Talk Radio.  We talk Jets and Giants football and it is usually a lively discussion.  Bu since the lockout, there has not been much to talk about.  Sure there was the NFL Draft, the court dates, Jets West, Eli Manning holding some practices in Hoboken, and some other tidbits.  But there has not been any concrete story to talk or report on.

Last Tuesday we did a show on the fly.  A lot of the topics were done on the cuff.  It was a great show, do not get me wrong, but we were grasps at straws for topics.  All of a sudden I thought of an issue regarding the lockout.  An issue some may have touched on but very, very few report on.  We all know the players, teams, and the NFL are being hit financially by the lockout and possibly no 2011 NFL season.  But what about the other businesses that derive revenue off football before, during, and into the post season?  This can range from sports bars to merchandisers.  From the NFL Sunday Ticket package to beer sales.

There are many businesses that look forward to not just football on Sunday’s, but for the season.  Many start to see sales increase and more visits to their website the closer it gets to the preseason.  There is a certain itch people get.  When you know your draft for fantasy football is around the corner, so is the preseason.  Many businesses gear up because they know fans and customers will be spending extra dollars on football related businesses.

But, if there is no 2011 season, many businesses will see a downturn.  There will be losses in sales, establishments will not be visited as much, food service workers may not receive the same level of tips on Sunday, on top of a chain reaction of businesses losing football season generating revenue.  Let us do a rundown of some businesses that might be affected.  If you believe more might be affected, feel free to contact me or list them in the comments.

Sports Bars/Restaurants
This seems to be the obvious place to start.  Every Sunday, if one is not home or at the game, one is out with friends to watch the game and throw back some beers and wings.  There are countless places across the country where many go to watch their favorite team and other games.  There is the 1 PM game, 4:15 PM game, and the 8:30 Sunday night game.  We can not forget about Monday Night Football here as well.  The sports bars always play more than one game to keep fans there and ordering.  These are times where people flock en mass and order up round after round and appetizer after appetizer.

These establishments know they will be busy and place larger orders so there is enough on hand.  They expect to make more money than usual.  Beer, liquor, dinners, appetizers, and so much more are expected to be ordered in mass quantities.  Servers and bartenders expect to make more than usual as patrons are expected to fill some of these places.  I would not be surprised if some make several hundred in a matter of hours.

Sights like these could be a memory on Sunday's during the season

Now, if there is no football, those places will not be as busy.  Beer sales will be down which will affect the beer companies.  If the same quantities are not ordered as on a football Sunday the suppliers to these establishments will also see a decrease in sales.  Servers will see a decrease in tips and revenue.  Some bars and restaurants may not need extra help and not have as many workers on the schedule.  Anyone associated with business at a bar or restaurant on a football Sunday will see a drop in business that day.

Sports Merchandise/Sporting Goods
This is a business that I am sure has started to take a hit.  Before any season begins many go out to get their new jerseys, hats, shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, flags, magnets, and anything else that shows how much of a fan they are for their team.  This is the time many stock up, to find the latest and greatest to showcase their team spirit.  But if there is no game to attend, no tailgating, no bar to go to in pride, does it matter if you went and bought the latest and greatest?

Many fans will go out and buy certain draft picks jerseys before or during the preseason.  With the draft picks not signed to their teams how could they make these jerseys?  We are less than 100 days away from the start of the 2011 season and I am sure not much merchandise is being moved right now.  Many are content to wear or use the items they have had for a while now.

With no football games of any kind, there is no merchandise to sell at any stadium.  There is a loss right there.  Not just to the companies like Starter, Reebok, Big Apple, and everyone else that put out the clothes and sporting goods, but the teams and league itself.  Reebok has an exclusive contract with the NFL to manufacturer all NFL apparel.  They will take the biggest hit.  If Reebok does not make a profit, neither will the NFL or the teams.  It is the trickle down effect.

Will fans still purchase merchandise if there is no football?

The NFL makes money off the licensing agreement.  They also see a piece off what Reebok sells.  The teams also see a piece of anything that is sold with their name on it.  But with no season for fans to show off their wares at a game or tailgating, what good is it?  To have it and hold onto it for next season?  Some will still go out and buy what they can in hopes their is a season.

Let us take an example.  Reebok has replica jerseys from $55-$85 a piece.  Actual jerseys can range from $100 on up, depending on where you buy it.  If at minimum 100,000 jerseys are bought at those prices you can see the millions that could be made if there is a football season.  We are not taking into account the other sporting goods and t shirts, hats, jackets, sweatshirts, and countless other merchandise.

For those who tailgate who adorn their home with the latest wares, there is a loss there.  Many could still just use what they have and not bother to get anything new.  No need for the new grill, tent, cooler, flags, chairs, tables, or anything else many add to their tailgate.  Now this may not be a big business changer but if companies do produce more because they see a slight increase because of football, they may not happen now.

Advertisers
Think of all the commercials one sees during a football game.  The car commercials, beer commercials, electronic ads, and so much more.  If they are not buying the time, the network does not get paid to air those ads.  The companies whose ads are on TV may not be able to reach their target audience they get with football.  They may still run ads, but not the same volume as they would during a Giants vs Cowboys game.  Not having the right placement for ads can hurt sales for a business.

The other way advertisers can be hurt is no one at the stadium sees their logo or ads.  There are sponsors for post game shows, pre game shows, stadium entrances, and the stadiums themselves.  There are so many ads being paiod for at the stadium.  If no season, no ads and the teams lose out on that advertising revenue.  Pepsi may see a drop in soda sales on Sunday.  Companies who have promotional days will not be able to get their name out to fans.

Advertising helps to bring in revenue teams and networks count on.  Without that, they need to find alternate methods to keep their advertisers happy.  Look for ways or broadcasts to push their brand and still reach the public and demographic they look to get from football.  Teams and the NFL are already cutting costs how they can.  If they can not generate revenue from outside sources, employees may not return to work sooner than they think.

There could be no one around to hear or see ads for products and not visit merchandise stands

Now, this could all change if there is a football season this year.  But even if there is a shortened season and no preseason, businesses will still see a small effect.  I know there are many other businesses that will see the effect if there is no season.  I just wanted to bring attention to what could be a loss of revenue to other businesses rather than just the NFL, teams, and players.

Many are out of work or have seen a loss of income due to the down economy.  If there is no 2011 season, many will feel the chain reaction of the lockout into their businesses.  Many look forward to certain sports seasons.  Some companies cater to those who are sports fans or involved with teams and leagues.  If there is no season, I am confident people will feel a hit to their bottom line.

Everyone wants the 2011 season to happen.  There are a few who will remain nameless who do not care if the season happens.  But from the fans, to advertisers, to business owners, to those who make any profit off the football season, we all want to see kick off.  Sports writers and beat reporters more than anyone want the season.  They need training camp and the season to have fresh material to write about.  No one more than the fans want to see the season happen.  Well, maybe not more than the players, or those who will see an increase to their bottom line.

NFL Lockout Not The Worst In Sports, Yet

With NFL labor talks in a standstill, it’s quite possible that there will be no football played in the states this coming September.  If you think you’d get a bad case of football withdrawal by next week, wait ‘til September when you’d be madly searching for the Toronto Argonauts-Ottawa Rough Riders epic somewhere on the Internet.  Or maybe catch that Arena League game on the NFL Network you have been waiting to see.

More sports leagues than the NFL have issues that might be halting play before next season. All four major sports leagues are facing potential shutdowns. It wouldn’t be the first time for stadiums & arenas to have no cheering fans in them, either. Baseball has had eight work stoppages, the NHL and NBA three apiece, and the NFL two. Some lasted a few days, others a few weeks, and one even wiped out the whole entire season and the playoffs.

To be sure, labor trouble isn’t confined to American sports. Sports leagues from Asia to Europe have had games canceled or postponed because of issues between players and management. As professional athletes earn more money, their collective representation becomes more powerful. And with additional revenues coming from television, endorsement deals and increased attendance, millions and billions of dollars are at stake in these negotiations.  No matter what country you play in, there is always a debate over money.

Sometimes the players have their way. Baseball, in particularly, has the most powerful union and its players have been able to get the owners to cave time and again because of their solidarity. At other times, the owners win big. The best such example was the 1987 NFL strike, in which the owners all but annihilated the players union by fielding replacement players (scabs) and cracked the union ranks by encouraging stars to cross the picket line.

1982 NFL Strike Sports Illustrated Cover

And there are cases when strikes are purely symbolic, with both the players and management unable to do much about decisions made by a higher power. No, God may not care who wins or loses, but courts surely decide arguments in someone’s favor and it’s not always strictly along labor lines.

The 1995 Bosman Ruling by the European Court of Justice, which caused a brief strike in Italy’s Serie A, famously made a few players and teams very rich while leaving others – players and teams alike – either without a job or bankrupt.  Sometimes it is not up to the players or the teams to show who has the true power in negotiations.

When courts don’t intervene, it’s then up to the warring sides to come to some kind of middle ground. While the average fan cannot find himself sympathizing with either the millionaires or the billionaires, it’s important to realize that professional sports is a business that goes way beyond the fun and games.  There is more concern for the dollars lost & gained rather than the faces in the crowd.

George Santayana famously cautioned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Well, no time is like the present for some history lessons. Let’s recap some of the pasts strikes and work stoppages to see just how sports has not just affected the players and owners, but the fans as well.

NHL 2004 Lockout

The NHL became the first major North American sports league in history to cancel a whole season, as recently as 1994-95, over a labor dispute. For the first time since 1919, the Stanley Cup was not awarded at the end of the season. That dispute — where the main issue was the salary cap — lasted 310 days and caused the cancellation of 1,230 games.

A salary cap was instituted, to be adjusted annually to guarantee players 54 percent of NHL revenues. A salary floor was also implemented, and player contracts were to be guaranteed. Revenue sharing and two-way salary arbitration were ushered in.

1981 MLB Strike

The 1987 season was the last time the NFL experienced a work stoppage. Players went on strike as they argued for liberalized free agency rules. However, only 14 games were lost that season and it was seen as a big win for the owners.  42 were played by the replacement players.

The league had another work stoppage in 1982, the result of a players’ strike over the sharing of revenue with owners. There were 98 games canceled that season and by the time play resumed, both sides claimed victory.  It seems with the NFL, history does repeat itself.  Despite abbreviated regular seasons in both strike years, the NFL still staged the Super Bowl.

The main issue in this year’s ongoing NFL labor dispute revolves around the splitting of a $9 billion revenue pool. Owners want a bigger share while players are reluctant to agree until they’re provided with transparent financial data from the league. Other issues under discussion & dropped are: expanding the regular season to 18 games (not happening), instituting a rookie wage scale, and improving benefits for current and retired players.

The 1998 NBA season was shortened from 82 games to 50. A total of 928 games were lost.  It was the first NBA work stoppage that resulted in a loss of games.

The owners wanted a cap for the league’s highest paid players and a larger share of the revenue. The players were relatively happy with the current structure but wanted an increase to the league minimum. The lockout swung in the owners’ favor when an arbitrator ruled that the owners didn’t have to pay the players their guaranteed salaries while play was halted.

Commissioner David Stern set a deadline of Jan. 7 to get a deal done or he would cancel the season. A deal was reached on Jan. 6 that most believe favored the owners.  Salaries were capped at $9-14 million, depending on years of service and a pay scale was put in place for rookies. There was a modest raise to the league minimum.  A first in NBA history.

The NBA was at its peak before the lockout and it took a big hit. Attendance and TV ratings declined and its biggest star, Michael Jordan, retired during the lockout. Only recently with stars like Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and LeBron James has the NBA been able to fully recover.  The NHL saw a similar decline after it lost a year of play.

1987 NFL Strike

After the NHL, the next-highest number of games lost because of a work stoppage have both occurred in Major League Baseball. There were 920 games canceled in the 1994-95 strike, including the 1994 World Series. MLB also lost 712 games because of another strike in 1981.

In all four major North American sports leagues there seems to be a continued dispute in the same areas: salary and salary cap, revenue sharing from both the team and media outlets, and miscellaneous financial alternatives.  This years NFL debate is the first one to have a suit centered on retired players health care.  One will wonder if the other leagues will follow suit when the time comes.

There are labor disputes all the time.  The Teamsters, AFL/CIO, UFCW, Air Traffic Controllers, Cab Drivers, and dozens of other unions have either gone on strike or had a work stoppage.  They get attention from everyone, but not the same amount professional sports gets.  Plus, fans always seem to be caught in the middle of a sports strike or lockout.  You do not see fans complaining when Wal Mart employees are not working, do you?

As it stands now, football seems like a dream come September.  The other major sports in North America seem to have their issues looming on the horizon.  This is a vicious cycle.  If the players and owners can not learn now, then when will they?  How long do they expect the fans to to wait?  No matter what sport you follow the most,  when there is a strike or work stoppage, the fans seem to wait for the outcome more than the parties involved.

(Statistics & dates compiled from Wikipedia)

Fireman Ed Tells A Tale Of Two Stadiums

With football in a standstill right now, people can only talk about the upcoming draft.  Next season seems like something Santa should be bringing as everyone has it on their wish list.  But you will find those who are hopeful.  The ones who are already counting the days until the Jets have their first ever home game in the new stadium against the rival Giants.  A game many always look forward to.  Some fans look forward to it more than others.  One in particular is Fireman Ed Anzalone.

I sat down with with Ed in June of last year to get his thoughts in many areas.  Ranging from the Jets chant to the Jets, to the new stadium and the PSLs.  This time, I wanted to get his thoughts on what he thought about the season, the stadium, and if there will be a 2011 season.  Ed, like always, shares some thoughts for the camera and has other thoughts off camera.

The Fireman Ed/Christopher Black Fiasco Credit:CBS News

In the old stadium, Ed sat along the 20 yard line and had a great view of the field.  Everyone knew where he was and it was easy for him to get up and lead the Jet faithful in the chants.  Now, he has his seats in the end zone behind the goal posts where people have to look and see if he can be located.  Not the best place to be to lead the crowd.  But with the cameras and video screen, it helps the situation.

Ed knew the people he sat around in the old stadium.  These were people who had their seats for over 20 years.  Now, he is surrounded by different people every game.  When Green Bay came to face the Jets, there were two rows of Packer fans surrounding him.  Ed says it is a revolving door of fans who sit in the seats in the end zone.  At least by him.  Certain ticket holders look at the seats as an investment and will make their money back charging for tickets on a per game basis.

Ed notices how many are not really there to see the game.  Ed says that they diehards are the ones who sit in the end zone to about the 20 yard line in the lower section.  From about the 20-25 yard line to the other 20-25 yard line are the fans who are not truly there to see the game.  They care more about the VIP clubs, Coaches Club, bars, lounges, and other places to watch the game.  Ed says those seats are empty during the game, but the TV camera will not pick that up.  The seats are gray for a reason.  It makes the seat look filled on TV, even when it is not.

Ed on WFAN's Boomer & Carton Credit:WFAN

Ed has paid for four PSL’s in the lower part of the end zone.  He went for the cheapest PSL’s he could afford.  People question him actually purchasing them or if the Jets gave them to him.  Ed knows that if he takes anything like that from the team, he will have to owe them something.  He does not want to take anything form them or owe them anything.  He pays like everyone else, and does not like it.  He is stuck sitting around a revolving door of fans.  Ed knows the real fans, the ones who stick it out in the worst weather sit closer to the top.  Sounds like the hierarchy in the Roman Coliseum.

Speaking of true fans, Ed has even spoken with several Giants fans.  Many fans do not like the new stadium at all for several reasons.  For one, this stadium does not have their name on it.  There are no red and blue seats.  They have to share it equally with the Jets kills some Giants fans.  Plus, some feel cheated by John Mara.  They know his father would have never have approved anything his son has done.  They feel fans have been treated better over their 90 year history and they have been slapped in the face.

Ed is optimistic the 2011 season will happen.  if it doesn’t he does hold the team owners responsible.  They have so much power and finances that they do not have to worry.  This situation shows just how greedy they really are and not willing to give in to the players.  He does feel the fans are caught in the middle and are always caught in situations with no thought.  Ed believes if there is no 2011 season, then shame on the owners for doing so.  Sometimes, there has to be give and take.  Not just take.

Leading The First Chant In New Stadium Credit:JetsTwit.com

There comes a time when some know their time is up.  When a torch needs to be passed.  Ed knows that time is coming soon for him.  He is over 50 and knows he can not do the Jets chants much longer.  He said if someone came along and thinks they can do it or takes a shot and doing what he does, then he would step aside gracefully.  Ed believes in a few years, there will be some other Jets diehard fan doing what he does, and younger.  And Ed is ok with that.  he is content to just attend and watch the games.

Ed is not shy when it comes to giving his opinions.  I just do not feel like giving them all away right now.  Then what would be left for the documentary?  I may decide to give people more in a little bit.  It all depends on the lockout being lifted.  There are appeals and so much more that can happen.  So instead of writing about the Jets, I will have more on Fireman Ed.

Football is entering a new era.  The NFL will not be the same after this lockout.  The teams, players, and even the fans know that the sport of football has been replaced with the business of football.  Fans are not fans any longer, they are consumers.  Looked at for the dollar they spend.  Long gone are the days where you knew people names in the stadium.  Where you could get up close and personal.  Now that is done on Facebook and Twitter.  Ed saw the change coming years ago.  He may be known as Fireman Ed to everyone, but to the Jets, he is both a consumer and a brand they can push to make them more money.

Gang Greed: More Than A Documentary Title

When I set out to film this documentary in August of 2008, I set out to tell the fans side.  To let the fans speak about what it means to be a Jets fan.  How the new PSL’s were going to affect their status as a season ticket holder.  Were they going to invest in them or stop going to games altogether.  Now, it seams, no one may be going to any games in 2011.

National Football League team owners locked out the league’s players Saturday, shutting down professional football for the first time in 24 years and plunging the nation’s most popular and prosperous sport into a time of uncertainty.

The owners acted after labor talks with the players’ union collapsed Friday afternoon and players decertified the NFL Players Association, moving the bitter dispute into the courts and ending an era of NFL labor peace that had lasted since players went on strike in 1987.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, joined at left by Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, speaks with reporters as negotiations between the NFL owners and players go unresolved

Decertifying the NFL Players Association enabled the players to file antitrust litigation against the owners, which they did late Friday, with superstar quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees among the 10 named plaintiffs. Lawyers for the players also announced that they are seeking an injunction to lift the lockout.

Some still wonder if all of this was worth the headache.  Not just for the players and owners, but the fans as well.  Both the Jets and Giants issued apologies to the fans for the lockout.  The players feel they did what they could but were left with no other choice.

The team owners will complain they are losing money.  I am sure they will have no issues paying their bills though.  The income is a loss for their business, not them personally.  Some younger players will feel the crunch if they are not playing.  Many veteran players have investments and other business ventures that will help them get by.  But in the end, they will all be on the losing end.

Does anyone really win when this happens?  When the last lockout occurred in 1987, who won that battle?  The players were n strike while the owners went out and hired “scabs” to play out the season.  Will the team owners o the same thing this year?  Probably not.  They all want to get this rectified before training camp begins.  The fans would like it done sooner.

For season ticket holders, they would like to know sooner than later.  Many are pleased only 50% is due and not the whole bill.  It gives some longer to get that money together.  But knowing a season will happen is better knowing now rather than three weeks into a season.  We are on the outside looking in, wondering if a sport many of us enjoy will even happen this year.

Last week Judge David S. Doty ruled that the NFL violated the collective bargaining agreement with its players by renegotiating $4.078 billion in television rights fees for team owners to tap during a lockout even if no games are played in 2011.  Why should the owners be entitled to money if there is no season?  Should the players get paid if they do not play?

Both sides have their issues.  Many players feel the union walked away from a deal that sounded good and met their needs, despite the negative media attention towards the NFL and its owners.  According to that statement the NFL released the latest proposal’s details included:

1. The NFL proposed that the two sides split the economic differences between them, increasing their proposed cap for 2011 “significantly” and accepting the NFLPA’s proposed cap number for 2014, which was $161 million per team.

2. The NFL proposed an entry level compensation system that was based on the union’s “rookie cap” instead of a wage scale that the clubs originally proposed. In this proposal, the players drafted from rounds 2-7 would be paid the same amount of money, or even more money, than they are paid now. The savings that would come from the first-round picks would be reallocated to help veteran players and benefits.

3. After a player is injured, the NFL would guarantee that they would pay up to $1 milllion of that player’s salary for the contract year. This is the first time that the owners have offered a standard multi-year injury guarantee.

4. The following changes would be made immediately to promote player safety:

  • Reduce the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 weeks to 10 and limiting on-field practice time and contact.
  • They would limit full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season
  • They would increase the number of off days for players

5. The NFL proposed that any change from a 16-game season to an 18-game season would only be made if the two sides agreed on the change. The 2011 and 2012 seasons would be 16-game seasons.

6. The NFL team owners would boost retirement benefits for more than 2,000 former players by nearly 60 percent by funding retirees benefits $82 million in 2011 and 2012.

7. The owners offered current players the opportunity to stay in their current medical plans for the rest of their lives.

8. The owners would allow third-party arbitrators in the NFL’s drug and steroid programs.

9. The owners would improve the Mackey plan (designed for players suffering from dementia and other brain-related problems), disability plan and their degree completion bonus program.

10. The owners proposed a per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons.

Now that you know the particulars of the deal, do you still agree with the NFLPA’s decision to decertify and go to court with the NFL?

    Yes, the negotiations have been messy and well-publicized but progress was made before the recent burning of bridges.  After having half the month of March in extensions of negotiations, both sides were reportedly off by $185 million on how much owners should get up from each season for certain operating expense before splitting up the rest of the revenues with players. That’s a far less amount than the $1 billion difference that separated the two sides earlier in discussions.

    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, right, heads into labor talks with the league's negotiators.

    A recent poll by ProFootballTalk.com asked fans to place blame on who is responsible for the lockout and 27,000 have said that the player’s are to blame, barely. Just over 38% say the players are to blame, while 24.8% blame the owners and 36.7% blame both.

    Many say this is the billionaires vs the millionaires.  Two sides who get paid well, fighting to be paid more.  If you own a professional football team, one would think you already had enough.  Some of that may go to team operations and other bills to be paid, but many know where the bottom line ends.  Players put their bodies on the line and should see a little more compensation.  Let’s see Woody Johnson or the Mara or Tisch families out there to battle for that extra compensation.  I think not.

    So while the league and the union continue to bicker like a divorced couple fighting over bank accounts, the fans are the ones who are truly hurting from this dispute, like a child overhearing their parents argument.