First, we got a 24 hour extension. Then we got a 7 day extension. Then we got a rookie wage scale agreed to.
And now we're staring at another deadline... with no new CBA apparently anywhere close.
Now, before we got all doom and gloom on this, yes, in the next couple of hours we might hear about another extension. But with the sudden, vitriolic bickering between DeMaurice Smith and Jeff Pash (see more about that fun little tidbit here), that doesn't seem as likely as the zero hour extension was last time. And it also raises the question- with over a year to get this done, why do they need so many extensions now? It's getting to be like a college student begging his professor for ‘just one more extension!' because they decided to wait until the week before due date to work on their term paper. And unfortunately, we all know how well that situation often plays out.
Actual footage of a recent CBA negotiation.
Well, get ready to buckle down, ladies and gentlemen. (This is the part where I go doom and gloom.) I hate to say it, and this is one of those many times I'd love to be wrong, but I think the, well, you-know-what just hit the fan.
The NFLPA is demanding greater access to the NFL's books, or at least for the owners to request less money off of the top. This seems, well, non-negotiable on all accounts from the NFL's standpoint- and non-negotiable points, particularly points involving, you know, a billion dollars, aren't good for negotiations. Furthermore, the NFLPA has put its foot down on the 18-game schedule, and we haven't really heard what the NFL thinks of that.
So while we've gotten some progress, the two key sticking points remain, and neither side seems ready to budge on them. Get ready for the courts, and get ready for a shortened season.
Now, if we have any glimmer of hope, it's the courts' recent ruling on the matter of the NFL getting money from TV networks without any actual football games being played. That should make the owners more pliable and willing to negotiate, but just because the owners may not be prepared for two full seasons of no football doesn't mean they're not prepared for some level of holdout.
And certainly, the NFLPA and the vast majority of the players seem prepared, too (Cromartie aside). Players are talking about their alternative means of employment during a lockout, from Ray Edwards strapping on the boxing gloves to Chris Johnson lacing up the running shoes. And the NFLPA, backed by big name QBs, has already prepared its antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. So while some progress has been made, it still appears as if both sides are ready to bat down the hatches and sit tight.
So what are the ramifications for the Minnesota Vikings, in particular? Well, with no CBA, we're in the dark as far as what will happen with FA and contracts. Will Ray Edwards, Sydney Rice, and others be RFAs or UFAs? When can we look for a stop-gap vet at QB, and will it be in time to prepare them for whatever season we have? We'll have the draft, but when can we get to figuring out contracts for our picks, and when will we be able to start working them out as members of our team? Let's face it, for a team looking to turn over a large percentage of its roster, a lockout is a nightmare.
Furthermore, this could potentially harm the attempts at getting a new stadium. Without actual Viking games to help galvanize the fan base, both inside and outside of Minnesota (and remember, check out Chris' post on how out of town fans can help), and without an active example of the revenue that the Vikings bring to the state, could the attempts to secure a new location and funding start to slow down, or, G-d forbid, even stop outright?
The Minnesota Vikings aren't in a great situation for this lockout to occur. We've got a lot of questions both on and off the field that need answering, and answers won't be coming as quickly without a new CBA. And the longer it drags out, the more damage will be done.
So let's hope for some miracle here, because we're going to need one. Another extension, perhaps, or maybe a surprisingly swift resolution once the issue starts hitting courts and the NFL realizes what a precarious situation they're in.
But sadly, the best advice I can personally give at this time is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.