Will 2011 Be The Year Without An NFL Season?
With 162 days remaining until Thursday night, September 8, the first game of the regular season is looking more and more in jeopardy with each passing day.
During negotiations in late February and early March, it was plenty evident to onlookers that the league and the players were miles apart from reaching an agreement. Talks between the two sides officially broke down on March 11, and negotiations ended seemingly without a shred of progress.
A lawsuit was promptly filed between the players, led by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, and the N.F.L. The first hearing of that lawsuit is scheduled for April 6 in the Minneapolis courtroom of Judge Susan Richard Nelson.
Now both sides seem to be digging in their heels and remain steadfast in their positions. Both seem ready, willing, and even eager to have their day in court. As is common in many court cases though, the process can drag on for months and months. Sometimes those months can turn into years.
For most fans, they simply do not care about the intricate nuances of antitrust law. They just want to know that they'll be able to see their favorite teams play this fall.
At this juncture, it's not looking likely.
To make matters worse, another lawsuit was filed this Monday against the league by four retired players, including Hall of Famer Carl Eller and popular running back Priest Holmes.
Representing the retired players, Attorney Michael Hausfeld contends that there are three separate interests now that the players union has decertified: players set to be drafted who have never been in the union, players who were part of the union when it decertified, and former players who had previously retired from the union.
Regardless of the legal issues, both sides are likely to be hurt by the lawsuit. The last time this happened, 1987, a 24-day strike by the players reduced the regular 16 game season to 15 games. Television revenues were down 20% and fans lost enthusiasm.
When it comes to the 2011-12 season, everyone is hoping for a successful Hail Mary.
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