As the clock was slowly but surely ticking down on the Collective Bargaining Agreement – set to expire at midnight on Friday, the two sides did something that may well be a sign that a solution is in the works: they extended the CBA by 24 hours, which means that negotiations will continue on Friday. A short while ago, the league seemed adamant in bringing about a lockdown, but now it looks like they’re settling in for more talks, as it appears that the CBA is likely to be extended yet again on Friday to make room for more talks. What was the factor that prompted the league to change the course of its approach? Apparently, it was the decision of US District Judge David S Doty, which – on one hand – cut the league’s immediate access to $4 billion in television revenues, while blowing the cover on the league’s premeditated intentions to bring about the labor stoppage.
The proverbial thorn in the NFL’s side, Doty’s decision wasn’t the first time the now 81 year old Judge stopped the rich and the powerful from bending things their way. A previous decision of his made in 1992, set the grounds for free agency. The deal between the NFL and various broadcast networks which would guarantee the league $4 billion in revenues even if there was no 2011 season, wasn’t a fair one by any measure: it basically meant that he league had given up on potential sources of revenue just to bring this undertaking to fruition, thus abandoning its fiduciary responsibilities and betraying the trust of the players, who rely on the league to maximize revenue. In a word: the league was much more preoccupied with securing revenue the players wouldn’t be able to touch in case of a lockout than with successfully negotiating a new CBA and thus averting labor stoppage. The question that remains now is: will Doty’s whistle-blowing be enough to save the 2011 season?
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