To put this in terms that most folks can understand: the NFL is like someone who is selling a home. The catch is the buyer doesn’t get to have the place inspected before he signs on the bottom line.
If you flip on ESPN this morning, or hear a soundbite from Commissioner Roger Goodell on one of a host of news and sports networks, it would sound as if the NFL lockout could end as early as this afternoon. And it could. But Yahoo! Sports national NFL writer Jason Cole tempers expectations slightly by giving us the entire story – that much of this is a sly public relations move by the NFL owners to back the players into a corner. Accept an “agreement” that was never agreed upon, or look like the bad guys withholding the most popular sport in the country from its rabid fans.
Goodell’s opening statement was decidedly leading, making it seem as if this proposal was done. Goodell went so far as to use the word “agreement” even though there isn’t one.
“With this ratification and with the ratification of the NFLPA board, we will be prepared to open the training facilities beginning on Saturday, this Saturday,” Goodell said. “We will then be prepared to start the new league year next Wednesday subject to the full membership of the players ratifying the agreement and recertifying as a union. Obviously you know that we’re all under a time constraint. That’s one of the reasons we worked to get this agreement completed tonight.”
Again, nothing is complete and the indication that it is done was downright offensive to some players.
The player receiving the most airtime today seems to be New Orleans Saints fullback Heath Evans, largely due to the tweet he sent out last night:
So why would the NFL owners frame this debate in such a misleading way? Just look at some of the replies to Evans’ tweet:
That last one sums it up. Goodell and the owners know they hold the keys to something that millions of people crave. If they can successfully sell a narrative that an agreement has been reached and the players are too greedy to go play football, it will be a tremendous PR win for the owners in negotiations – and a tremendous loss for them when the season begins and a bunch of players perceived as whiny millionaires take the field for their respective teams.
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