The St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears are scheduled to kick off the preseason NFL schedule with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 7. Just a month away, that game could be the only casualty to the NFL schedule as labor talks continue. In his update today at SI.com, my Combine media table neighbor (thanks for lending me your headphones) Don Banks suggests the possibility of the August 7 game getting nixed.
While it has been presumed that the two sides would have to have a deal in place by July 15 in order to play the entire preseason schedule, it is now thought that only the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame Game between the Rams and Bears would have to be sacrificed if an agreement came together as late as July 22. Saving 64 of the league's 65-game preseason schedule would be considered a satisfactory success rate and would not severely dent the estimated $800 million of revenue that's at stake in the preseason.
It is just one game.
The most reasonable estimates now are that an agreement could be reached by the middle part of next week, but as Banks suggests, it could be longer. The truth is, nobody knows, since details from inside the meeting are too sketchy for specific dates.
Something else to consider is just how far the NFL has to be between a handshake and a signed contract to get the season started. Last time around, they were able to resume business before the agreement was technically certified.
Just how much time do the Rams and Bears really need to play the game though? As Mike Silver pointed out the other day, it is just a glorified scrimmage. There are enough players on the roster to go through the motions on short notice.