Sports

Court of law likely to decide NFL’s dysfunction

The NFL’s modern-day gold rush now will be mined in a courtroom. Goodbye, lush playing fields, Vegas sports books, fantasy football websites and all-important television ratings.

The NFL Players Association gave a proverbial stiff-arm to the labor talks with owners Friday and decertified. Now a lockout by owners only muddies the water.

Antitrust lawsuits are on the horizon. Smoky tailgates and season-ticket renewals are not.

The NFL world as we know it could stop rotating any second. Anyone who draws an NFL-related paycheck – excluding legal counsel – is stuck in limbo.

This all should have ended Friday. Instead, after nearly two years of negotiations, no deal.

It’s not just the uncertainty that is troubling in regards to the NFL’s future. It’s the unappealing aspect of what’s next.

“Unfortunately, now we’re going to have to go through this process in court,” New York Giants owner John Mara told reporters in Washington, D.C., after Day 17 of mediation.

In the case of owners vs. players, the guaranteed losers are the fans.

The NFL doesn’t belong in a courtroom. Barry Bonds might. Not Peyton Manning.

The fans’ next option for entertainment is to head to Minnesota and see Manning wave his arms in a courtroom as one of many high-profile plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit.

In the end, either the owners or the players will get richer. Fans won’t.

Six months from now, regular-season games surely will be under way. Or how sure can we be? No one thought a World Series could be canceled, right?

Yes, fans have options outside of the NFL realm. Are they enticing enough to kick their year-round addiction?

It’s not a matter of whether there is enough money to spread around, but rather that there is too much. The players wanted to see their bosses’ books for the past 10 years. The NFL allegedly offered a five-year glimpse. The players opted to bat their eyes at a federal judge.

The NFL’s chief negotiator, attorney Jeff Pash, fired off a list of concessions the owners are (were) willing to make. Salaries would climb, as would days off and health benefits.

It sounded like a sweet deal – until NFLPA counsel Jim Quinn took the mike and called Pash a liar.

A court of law likely will decide the outcome of this NFL dysfunction, with luck within the next six months.

The court of public opinion is likely to rule in swifter fashion. Fans just want everyone to get back to shaping rosters, playing football and fulfilling their TV obligations every Sunday for the other six months of the year.



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