Aside from the actual games themselves, the big thing that has been discussed ad nauseum during the 2010 season and since its conclusion has been the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

This article is over a month old, but given the way things are happening so far, it still feels relevant.  Basically, it says the NFL representatives feel the players got too much in the last deal, and they will do what is necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again.   A few issues that I find interesting:

A rookie salary cap:  The owners want it, and so do I.  Without it, costs continue to skyrocket for unproven commodities.  It makes no sense from a business standpoint to invest so much in something that inherently has a lot of uncertainty.

18 game regular season:  Again, this is something owners want, for obvious reasons.  I don’t want it, though.  16 games just feels right.  I feel that the other three major sports have seasons that are way too long, and I think the NFL is the only one that has it right where it should be.  Besides that, it will almost ensure that many of the single season records in existence now will be broken.

Health insurance:  The players want health insurance benefits extended from five to 10 years for retired players.  I agree with this one.  For all the punishment the players take over a career, it’s only right to take care of them after they are done playing.

Dear NFL: Please don't let this happen

In the last couple of days, two important things have happened in this whole ordeal.  First, the current CBA was set to expire on Thursday night at midnight.  After several meetings over the past week plus, and without any real progress being made, the two sides were at least able to agree to a 24-hour extension to the CBA to facilitate more talks today.  The second important action taken was to again extend the CBA, this time by a full seven days.  This was carried out earlier today.  However, according to the article, the two sides are still miles apart in their negotiations.

Several weeks ago, well before any talks were going to occur, I didn’t have any real concern about the possibility of a lockout.  After all, the NFL is enjoying its highest television ratings, and it is the most popular sport in America.  Why would the owners or the players slaughter such a large cash cow?  The way things are right now, I’m cautiously optimistic that a new labor deal will be enacted in the near future and the NFL’s operations will not be (for the most part) affected this calendar year.

I think I get it, though.  When I was younger, I used to be like (I think) a lot of people are.  Many view the owners and players and all they see is greed.  Perhaps this is so, but if you stop to think about it, neither side is being all that unreasonable.

The players obviously want to get as much money out of this as possible, as do the owners.  This isn’t any different from any other business.  The numbers are higher, to be sure, and I think that tends to be the hangup for many people.  Who wouldn’t want to be earning $10 million per year?  But compared to the slice of pie the owners get, it’s easy to see why players want more.  After all, without them, the owners have no product to sell.  All they want is their fair share, which is really all anyone wants, no matter where he works.  And hey, as fans, if we’re willing to give up our firstborn to go to the games, what reason does anyone have to cut the fans a break?  High salaries and high profits are as much about the fans as anything else.

All that being said, I feel like a deal will be reached sooner, rather than later.  When push comes to shove, I imagine both sides would rather have football and make their money than waste time arguing and canceling the season.  Hockey went through a lockout a few years ago, and if there’s no football, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself come this fall.  Don’t be like hockey, NFL.