NFL Lockout: Progress made on rookie pay...real or imagined?

NFL Lockout picture.

Depending on which precise moment of the day you're looking in on the progress of NFL owners and players in resolving the lockout, you'll find either "progress" or eminent collapse. Part of that is a media problem, a new media problem in that we expect minute-by-minute information, and the news vacuum fills with whatever dust particle of leaked info it can get. After backsliding yesterday, there is again progress in resolving the NFL lockout. 

With the big picture of revenue sharing, i.e. the percentage split and "true ups" largely resolved, the thinking once was that the antitrust settlement talks would lead to a new collective bargaining agreement pretty quickly. Until it didn't. This week's hangup, as well as last week's, is the rookie pay scale. Specifically, the length of contracts for the first 10 to 16 players selected in the NFL draft. Owners want more control, in the form of five-year contracts, players want first rounders to reach free agency sooner. 

Now come reports of progress, from reliable sources like NFL Network's Albert Breer, who has been Johnny on the Spot when it comes to the lockout. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports reports that it was the owners who made enough concessions to brake the impasse. 

If true, I suspect it had something to do with leaked reports of players considering filing an injunction in Judge Nelson's court to end the lockout for rookies and free agents. In the 8th Circuit Court's ruling last week, their decision included language that teams could not lockout those players that were not under contract, for reasons having to do with the Norris-LaGaurdia Act which. The NLGA and the 8th Circuit were once seen by owners as their Maginot Line, a redoubt against the antitrust assault. But the Maginot Line left an open flank in the Ardennes Forest, just like the 8th Circuit left owners exposed on this issue, exposed to court already hostile to the lockout and with no course of appeal for that particular item. (Maginot Line reference made; history degree finally justified. I'm also pleased I was able to avoid a tired sports metaphor). 

Judge Kermit Bye of the 8th Circuit forbodeingly told owners and players that it was in their best interest to work things out because a decision would not be well-liked by either side...voila. 

So, once again we have reports of progress, whether or not that's justified remains to be seen. For now, take it with a grain of salt, and keep your fingers crossed that this thing does finally get worked out relatively quickly. I just hope it take long enough to cancel the Hall of Fame Game...but that's just my crabby opinion. 

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