Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blame NFL owners for latest delay in deal

Somehow, it seemed more amusing when Lucy did it to Charlie Brown.

Lucy, at least, didn't tease an entire nation. She didn't mess with the paychecks of common folks working in the offices of every NFL city. She didn't fly off in her private jet after pulling the football out from under poor saps everywhere.

Other than that, NFL owners were quite a hoot on Thursday.

For days, perhaps even weeks, sources in the league have been whispering that an agreement with players was on the way. The lockout was almost over. Preseason would be saved. The regular season was around the corner.

Except, oh by the way, this isn't the deal we negotiated.

Color me cynical, but I'm about as shocked at this news as Captain Renault was when he discovered there was gambling going on in Casablanca.

So is this latest snag a dealbreaker?

Absolutely not. This will eventually get resolved. Perhaps as soon as today.

It just felt terribly manipulative of NFL owners to ratify an agreement Thursday that commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the players had not yet approved.

Because the league initially portrayed it as if it were all but a done deal. It announced a timeline. It talked about players showing up in camp within 48 hours. It did everything but put on party hats and pass out Al Davis' meds.

And, in retrospect, it makes you wonder whether all the happy, cheerful news wasn't a part of the game plan. That maybe league sources were creating momentum for a deal that apparently was going to be shoved down the throats of players at the last minute.

Think about it. Players were getting excited about getting back to camp and getting paid. Fans were pumped about the idea of seeing real, live football in a matter of days.

The owners had the entire football-watching world jazzed about the potential of a settlement. They created a scenario where everyone expected games to resume, and now they can point at the players and say, "Hey, they're the ones who haven't agreed."

If that was the strategy, we're talking some real Machiavelli maneuvering. Or maybe Borgia bull. Either way, it was not the way they draw it up in Mediation 101.

Of course, there's a chance I'm being too harsh. That I'm staring so hard and so deep that I can see all the way to Dealey Plaza.

Maybe the owners really did think they had an agreement and figured the players were ready to rubber stamp it. I just think the way they went about it looks awfully suspicious.

It seems to fly in the face of good-faith negotiations to spend four months working on a deal, then go ahead and vote before everyone had a chance to sign off on it.

Yes, the owners were all together for a meeting in Atlanta. Yes, it was much easier to vote with everyone sitting in the same ballroom.

But, come on, couldn't you just wait another day or two and have a conference call when you were certain everyone was on the same page?

Now the onus is on the players. They will look like the bad guys if they don't approve a deal that suits the owners just fine. Now the blood will be on their hands.

But just remember, from the very beginning, it was the owners who decided the 2011 football season was in jeopardy. They're the ones who opted out of the previous labor agreement. They're the ones who were seeking concessions from players. They're the ones who locked the doors to the locker rooms.

Look, I'm not crying for the players. A lot of them have so much money they're already putting funds aside for BMWs for their great grandchildren.

It's just that Thursday felt like too much of a charade. It felt as if someone was orchestrating news leaks to titillate the public and exert pressure on the players.

So where does that leave us now?

I honestly have no idea.

Conflicting reports were flying in every direction Thursday night. The players voted to reject the deal. No, wait, they didn't even bother to vote.

They're okay with the details. Hold on, they're angry with some of the language. Wait, Howard Dean is screaming about going to Canton and taking back the Hall of Fame.

In other words, it is difficult to accurately predict.

My sense is that this has gotten too far down the road for the players to tear it up now. And, if that's the case, the league's ploy may have worked to perfection.

And I'm not pretending these negotiations aren't complex and critical. The NFL is a money-making machine and even tiny changes to a labor agreement can mean hundreds of millions of dollars flowing from one direction to another every single year.

So I don't blame the owners for fighting for their investments. And I don't blame the players for trying to hold on to their wallets, their health and their dignity.

I just wish Thursday didn't feel like such a tease.

Good grief.

Blame NFL owners for latest delay in deal 07/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 11:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 11:01: No Dickerson today as the Rays go with seven right-handers.

    Here is the lineup:

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]