NFL/NFLPA Deal is Inevitable, This is Just the Process

March 14, 2011 | Brian Billick

After spending the weekend traveling, I was “exposed” to the diatribe of commentary and speculation about the NFLPA’s decertification and the leagues decision to lockout.  I use the word “exposed” because no matter what city I was in or what station I turned too, everyone was talking about it.

The Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride) says there is a key rule that one must always remember in Hollywood: “Nobody knows anything.”

After listening to the varying opinions from players, owners, lawyers, reporters, and all the talking heads…Mr. Goldman is dead on accurate.

Perhaps, as both sides contend, this was inevitable. After all, DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players Union (excuse me, “Association”) was formerly a trial lawyer and litigation partner.  I live in the DC area and you hear the politicians and pundits say all the time, “they failed to frame the narrative”.  The only way for him to justify his reported $4.3 M salary is to put the process in the form he is most comfortable with – litigation over negotiation.

Being in the hands of the lawyers, everyone should just calm down and focus your attention elsewhere because we are about to witness a culmination of rites, mandates, and injunctions that we don’t even know about, let alone care about.  Summed up by an old saying: “What do you call 300 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean: a good start”.

This will inevitably end up on Judge Doty’s desk and that outcome is predictable.  Judge Doty has never ruled in the favor of the league and never will.

At the end of the day, this will end up just like it does when an individual club sits down to finally negotiate with a player.  Both sides will flail away in the press about the injustice and the lying, and eventually the player will throw out the  “I am embarrassed by their offer” comment.  But sooner rather then later, the player realizes this is the best deal he will get.  He signs it and as to not concede, he declares he won the negotiation and everyone is happy.

Throughout the litigation process, it would serve the league and the union well to say as little as possible.  Based on the dozens of interviews I have heard by the players (not speaking of the few players involved in the negotiations), DeMaurice Smith has a huge PR problem.  They, like the rest of us, don’t have a clue what the issues are and how they can/will be resolved.  I am reminded of the old adage, that I have violated more than I care to remember, that says “it is better to stay silent, and be thought of as stupid, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Not a single player I heard interviewed had even the faintest idea of what he was talking about. You actually felt sorry for the embarrassment of the player when he found he was in a conversation about a subject that he knew absolutely nothing about.

I find it interesting that the Union, sorry Association, has chosen three players; Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees to be the face of their law suit.  Individually, these guys get their deals done, quickly, efficiently and with no public display of dissatisfaction.

Ask yourself this, do you think Brady, Manning, or Brees, each in their 30’s and playing/negotiating their final contracts valued at some $20 million a year, is going to miss a payday this fall?  Not going to happen.

So do as you normally would this time of year – enjoy your draft preparation, the beginning of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the beginning of the MLB season, and the NBA and NHL playoffs.   Because regardless of how it appears now, we will be playing football in 2011.