Before we assign too much altruism to NFL owners for finally working to get a deal done, let's not forget about the motivations at play here. Getting a deal done by July 15, if not sooner, means that the NFL can save the preseason, a very lucrative month that could be worth as much as one billion dollars.
For fans like you and me, preseason football carries all the excitement of an organ grinder and his dancing monkey. Who are we kidding, monkeys dancing in period costume is way better than preseason football, especially that fourth game. Owners love the preseason because they're not paying players as much money and fans are paying full price to see games. Full. Price. And the NFL wonders why fan relations are more than a little strained, even before the lockout.
I won't rehash Gordon Gecko's famous soliloquy, you know the one from when Oliver Stone still made good films. You get that. And in this case, greed is helping save the 2011 NFL season. I'll be interested to see how fans experience preseason football this year. Will they embrace it like the lost dog that comes home after bolting during a storm only to take it for granted and argue with dad about who's going to feed the damn mutt by the third week? Or will we approach with some trepidation, treating the preseason as we always have but holding it just a little more contempt after the lockout's damage to the league's relationship with fans? We should know soon enough.
Settlement Talks Update
Talks wrapped up yesterday, but will continue next week. The known details remain the same. ESPN quoted St. Louis Rams WR Mark Clayton, who said that players are agreeable to the deal so far. And the owners have not had to open the books.
We pretty much agreed to what our (players association) was fighting for on our behalf. It sounds like a lot of what we asked for, apart from the finances, they've been able to agree upon. At that point, we're just kind of waiting to get the final say-so and just roll it out ...
Free agency is still an unknown. A request by owners to retain right of first refusal for 3 or 4 free agents was not well received by players. One potential compromise being floated is a short, exclusive negotiating window for teams and free agents. Nothing has been settled with this...or any other part of the deal.