If you've been around Niners Nation for at least a little while, you know that I'm a fairly positive individual when it comes to the team and football. I wouldn't say I completely drown myself in the Kool-Aid, but rather enjoy a little sipping of it. However, now that Super Bowl XLV is in our rear view mirror, it's time for the bucket of cold water that is a potential 2011 NFL Lockout. It's not a happy topic, but it's an incredibly important topic.
The NFL and the NFLPA have been bickering like children at times over the last few months and at times it's seemed like a deal would be nearly impossible to reach. We've heard things like "deal-breaker issue" and "We are at war!" (thanks DeMaurice Smith for that nugget). I am not here to take sides at this point, other than to take the side of the fans. I can actually see valid arguments on both sides of the equation. The players have health concerns and an 18-game schedule would certainly seem to fly in the face of those health concerns (I don't care how many OTA days you remove). On the other side, the owners have paid for their franchises and pay the players and feel they need an adjustment to the revenue pie. The players deserve whatever they can get, but the owners do have a say in this.
At this point, the time has come to make a deal or suffer the consequences of fan backlash if the 2011 NFL season is delayed. Thankfully the two sides are finally meeting at the negotiating table, with future negotiations being scheduled. A lockout would likely begin on March 4 after the CBA has expired. Technically the two sides could continue with the current CBA rules while continuing negotiations. However, the owners want serious changes to the current CBA so I'd imagine the lockout will happen if a new deal isn't in place by March 4.
These negotiations are essential so that both sides can get their proposals on the table. Even if one side is dismayed by the other side's offer, the negotiations provide a forum to discuss the proposals and develop counter-proposals that same session, as opposed to then waiting several days or weeks to counter. In similar negotiations caucuses are a tool of the trade. If the owners submit a proposal to the players, the players could caucus in order to discuss the proposal in private away from the owners. Even if they love the proposal, the caucus allows some debate on the issue before returning so they can present a united front. If they make a counter, then the owners would have an opportunity to caucus.
Caucuses can often take more time than the actual face-to-face negotiations, which is one more reason to get these negotiating sessions scheduled. The two sides will need more than just face-to-face time to make this deal happen, and with only a month remaining, time is critical.
Fooch's Note: Bodog currently has the odds at 1/3 that their will be a lockout on March 4 and 2/1 there won't be a lockout. They also have this prop bet:
How many games will be played in the 2011 NFL Regular Season?
0 - 7/2
1-15 - 3/2
16 - 2/3
17 or more - 15/2