Ratto: What to make of latest NFL lockout news?

June 2, 2011, 5:33 pm
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NFL-NFLPA STATEMENT -- UPDATED 11:35 a.m.: "The parties met pursuant to court mediation. Owners and players were engaged in confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan. The court has ordered continued confidentiality of the mediation sessions."
Ray Ratto

For those of you who like your intrigue with a side of degradation, several NFL owners and their caddy, Roger Goodell, met with NFL Players Association representatives, including DeMaurice Smith, secretly in Chicago Wednesday night in hopes of easing closer to something that would get them closer to something else in advance of Fridays latest courtroom trip to determine of something was less legal than another thing as regards the owners lockout of the players.

And yes, we meant that to be obtuse, because that is apparently the way you want it. You dont want pre-natal reports, you want the baby, and the fact that the owners are entirely in the wrong here doesnt seem to matter to many of you.

But back to the here and now.

The telling detail in the meeting is not what came out of it, other than the fact that no actual corpses had to be removed, was that a number of NFL owners didnt even know the meeting was happening.

NEWS: NFL, players meet again for mediation

Let that swish around in your head a bit. A number of the 32 people who helped devised this harebrained strategy of making the players to blame for the owners desire to cut the players out of future TV and other ancillary earnings were not told the two sides were meeting. If Im one of those owners, Im wondering why I wasnt let in on the secret, and Im also wondering why Goodell seems happy with being the commissioner of a few teams but not others.

The owners who could be verified as being there were Jerry Richardson of Carolina, the most strident of the unionbreakers, Robert Kraft of New England, and Jerry Jones of Dallas. Others were told about the meetings, and others still didnt seem to get clued in, if reports are accurate.

This suggests three things:

1. The owner hierarchy suspects that some clubs are leaking information, or in some other way cannot be trusted fully.

2. There is not unanimity among the owners for either the tone of the negotiations or that there are any negotiations at all.

3. This is all chin music to set up the next round of owner intransigence.

PFT: Not-so secret meeting was lawyer-free

There is also a fourth possibility - that all the owners actually did know about the meeting. This seems clearly contradicted by the reports, but you never know with these negotiations, when the left hand barely knows what the left hand is doing, let alone the right.

Either way, there's a barrage of court and court-ordered matters coming up the end of this week and the start of next. Friday, the Eighth Circuit Court will meet to affirm its lockout ruling (anything else would make no sense), the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit comes up Monday, and mediation is scheduled to resume Tuesday.

And no, we are no closer than we were before the meeting, as it turns out. Hardly seemed worth all the cloak-and-dagger. Then again, without the cloak-and-dagger, they cant convince themselves how important this meeting was.

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Remember, kids, this is their lockout. They closed the doors despite all their clubs being wildly profitable, and in anticipation of new TV deals that would double their current take. Theyre doing this because they think they can, and they very well might.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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