The April 6th ruling from Judge Nelson in Minnesota may cause one side of the player vs owner battle to blink a bit, but that ruling will not end the lockout or get the labor talks restarted. The losing side in the matter will simply appeal the decision, the status quo will remain in effect, and we’ll have a new date to circle on our life without professional football calendar.
This journey through the court system will not produce a 2011 football season, no matter how the case unfolds. As with most arguments that end up in court, each side feels it can prevail — either by winning the case (players) or dragging it out past the opponents’ ability to withstand the financial drain being incurred (owners).
The owners are clearly committed to stonewalling the players right on into and perhaps even all the way through the 2011 season. They are not going to buckle. This would seem to indicate we’ll have scab football this year, if we have any football at all. These players won’t tecnically be scabs, since the current NFL players are not tecnically unionized, but scabs is a more pithy term than replacement players and will suffice to describe them.
The players are full of self-righteous power and zeal at the moment, especially those players running the show who are financially secure and wouldn’t have to play another game ever to pay the rent and otherwise carry on their lives. This does not describe the rank and file player in the league, however. A lost season of paychecks will be financially disastrous.
We are not going to see Drew Brees or Tom Brady emulate Joe Montana’s charge across the picket line in 1987. Joe was a football player. Brees and Brady are corporations. Any end to the lockout will have to come from the rank and file players. Whether they have the numbers or clout to overthrow the current players’ leadership is doubtful. Whether they have the nerve to cross the picket line on their own and risk permanent disapproval from their football brethren is also doubtful. For now.
The last trip through the court system dragged along for about four years (1989 – 1993). All it achieved was a pile of dough exchanging hands. A new CBA still had to be negotiated. The league and its players continued to play under the old rules during those four years, so we did not miss any football. That is not going to be the case this time. If four years elapse before the lawsuits are finally settled, hardly any current players would have any value at all by the conclusion of the case. And a whole new generation of scab ballers would have replaced them in the fans’ consciousness.
It’s entirely possible the 2011 Draft Class will not see the playing field any sooner than the 2012 Draft Class. It’s also possible 2012 players will skip the draft and sign scab contracts instead. They could also join the 2011 scabbers and form a new players union and sign a new CBA and the current non-unionized union would be de facto defunct.
It’s unlikely that events will go this far. But it’s also unlikely that the football universe will be open for business any time soon.