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Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 02/22/2011

NFL lockout seems inevitable, but how long will it last?

By LaVar Arrington

Last week, NFL owners and the players' union agreed to sit down and discuss possible terms in front of a neutral arbitrator. Entering the fifth day of talks, no deal is in sight.

As March 4 quickly approaches, the reality should be setting in that a lockout is inevitable. The question is, how long will it last?

If I'm understanding all of the information circulating correctly, it would seem that court rulings will dictate the strength of leverage on both sides. Judicial support will play a very critical part in which side will have to adjust its terms to come to an agreement.

No case is bigger than the fight over the television licensing agreement money. If the owners don't have to share that money with the players, it gives the owners a distinct advantage over the players' union, but if the players win, then the same applies the other way around.

With all this in mind I do believe both sides have a understanding of how dangerous a game of chicken this is. Both sides need to take into consideration that no football hurts both the owners and players. If a deal gets done before the season begins, I don't see the work stoppage affecting the popularity of the sport. However, if it goes into the preseason and beyond, I don't think anyone can predict how much damage that may do.

I would imagine the decision makers didn't build the most popular game in America by not understanding the consumer. If there's no football come regular season, it's because of greed, stubbornness or both.

If greed is too much of the driving factor in negotiations, then there will never be enough for either side. Both sides must have a little give to get a deal done.

Stubbornness is a product of ego, and we all know it's never a good thing when egos get involved. Both sides need to check the egos at the door and be open to doing what makes sense -- even if the terms don't match up exactly with original figures.

Most believe a deal will be in place before the season gets here. I believe there's too much that will be lost if a deal is not done, so I'm also expecting an agreement to be in place no later than July, but there will be a work stoppage before that happens.

By LaVar Arrington  | February 22, 2011; 11:54 AM ET
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"No case is bigger than the fight over the television licensing agreement money. If the owners don't have to share that money with the players, it gives the owners a distinct advantage over the players' union, but if the players win, then the same applies the other way around."

This right here shows that Lavar has zero understanding of the issue. There is no possibility of any agreement where the owners would not have to share the TV money with the players. That is where the vast majority of revenue comes from and each team's share of the TV money is essentially what determines the salary cap, the money that the players receive.

Posted by: paperwc | February 22, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The parties are not in arbitration. They are not appearing before an arbitrator who can decide and impose a solution. They are before a mediator and the parties are mediating their dispute - usually preferable to arbitration. The mediator is attempting to assist the parties reach their own solution. Given the complexities of the issues, a lengthy mediation process is not unusual. The parties should be commended for choosing to mediate. I have no idea how the mediation sessions are going, but good things usually result from mediation.

Posted by: jamborsky | February 22, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse


I love you man, but is this what a Pennsylvania State University education gets you? The differences between mediation and arbitration are akin to the nuances between inside and outside linebacker. Are these things proofed?

Posted by: duh2mag | February 22, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Speaking purely from a fan standpoint, I can live without pro football if it means the league owns their game.

Posted by: wkrdove | February 22, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Paperwc, the NFL recently negotiated an extension of all of their television contracts. These new deals guarantee the NFL owners $4B in 2011 in the event of a strike; that is almost as much money as they made this past season, which was a record year. The players’ union argued before a special master that the league left money on the table in order to get the guaranteed money in 2011, thus shortchanging the players of their share of the profits and negotiating with them now in bad faith. The union won a partial victory, but they are appealing the decision in hopes of either getting a significant share of the 2011 TV revenue in spite of a strike or completely negating the TV extension deals. Voiding the deals would eliminate any potential stash of cash the owners could use to hold out on the players.

Posted by: braunt | February 22, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

If the NFL locks the players out, I'm considering spending the time I ordinarily would be watching football on something more predicitive and worthwhile: anything else.

Posted by: sherberg | February 23, 2011 9:58 PM | Report abuse

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