NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith

It takes a real man to admit when he’s wrong.  Today, I will be a real man.  In my last post, I was optimistic (sort of) in thinking that, although far apart, the NFL and the NFLPA were taking baby steps toward a hopefully happy medium.  To quote myself:

“Here’s hoping for brighter days ahead in this process.  For now, they only have until Friday to get it done, unless another extension is put into place.  The chances of that happening can’t be good, so I imagine we’ll see another extension announced in the next couple of days.”

Nothing earth-shattering, but wrong is wrong.  My expected deadline extension did not come to pass, but rather, the players’ union decertified, and now this mess is headed to court.  Basically, the union no longer officially represents the interests of the players.  This article does a good job of explaining why the union chose to decertify and how it impacts this whole process.  The long and short of it is that decertifying the union allows individual players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NFL, as well as file an injunction, thereby requiring the NFL to continue operating in the current manner.  If the union did not decertify, players would have to wait six months after the CBA expired (which was this past Friday) before they could file a lawsuit.  By then, it would be September, and any hopes for a 2011 season would likely be gone.

Like I’ve been saying, I didn’t expect it to go this far.  Perhaps I should have, but I guess I’m just the eternal optimist.

Nobody wants to see empty stadiums this fall.

The next big event on the NFL calendar is the draft.  The NFLPA has apparently been in contact with some of the top prospects to encourage them not to attend the draft.  Typically, the best 15-20 or so prospects are at the draft, and once their names are called, they walk across the stage and hold up jerseys for their new teams.  So now, if this boycott goes through, when the Carolina Panthers draft Nick Fairley or whoever 1st overall, he won’t be in attendance.  I can’t see any real reason for this other than spite, which is oftentimes a good enough reason to do anything.

Even with a draft, teams can’t sign any of the rookies, nor can new players participate in any activities with their new teams.  It’s a lose/lose all around.  The rookies are still broke, unless their agents can tie them over for the time being, and worse, they aren’t getting acclimated to the NFL.  If a deal is reached, say, this July or August, what time will there be for them?  By that point, training camps are getting started and the preseason is around the corner.  It will really put rookies at a disadvantage if they can’t be involved with their teams before that point.

I’ll be blunt:  It sucks writing about all of this.  I wish there were better things going on right now, but such is the world we live in.  It’s happening, whether any of us likes it or not.  Until next time, I’ll just keep hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.