As if the lockout weren't bad enough, now comes word that the NFL might consider a new tact to gain leverage over the players. PFT reports that there are "rumblings" of the potential for the league to completely close up shop, officially going out of business. Why?
If court decisions keep coming down that favor the players, shutting down operation entirely would be the league's last resort, giving the collection of 32 or so wealthy white men big time leverage over the players at the bargaining table. For all the talk about how conservative the 8th Circuit Court is, it's unlikely that they'll overturn Judge Nelson's ruling to lift the lockout, especially on the grounds of jurisdiction which forms the foundation of the league's argument. Throw in a date with Judge Doty this week, and it's not looking good for the owners.
Unlike a lockout, there's nothing the players can sue over. Businesses have a right to close up shop. Many would still own the stadiums and the revenue associated with it. That real estate and other business ventures and whatever war chest they have stocked away would have to get them by while they negotiated, basically at gun point, with the players.
It won't happen.
That's a lot of money to leave on the table. The 2010 rules may be hard to swallow, but at least they can make money. If it came down to this, I suspect you'd see a big schism between the owners, with the majority being unwilling to take such drastic measures.
At some point, you'd think that owners will see the writing on the wall. Their decision to blow up the stability and profits that made the NFL the most popular sport in the world was a big mistake. They'll never get exactly what they were after when they made that move. At best, they'll get some giveback on the profits, a rookie wage scale a few other items...in other words, a more favorable deal than what they had.
It's just question of how much longer they'll let this stalemate drag on.