Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ban the barristers

As long as attorneys are in charge of solving the problems between the owners and players in the National Football League, nothing will get accomplished.

The only way to get this Collective Bargaining Agreement thing settled is for Commissioner Roger Goodell to step in, tell the barristers for both sides to take a hike, then lock the principals of both parties in the same room. For a week.

That’s how long it would take for this whole mess to go away. Maybe less.

Get these rich bastards in that room and make them talk. Make them see each other’s side in the money war. Make them have a better understanding of where each side is coming from.

Provide certain creature comforts, but make damn sure no one leaves that room for a protracted period of time unless there’s a good excuse. The longer this lockout lasts, the more each side has to lose.

Sure, it’s only the middle of April. The season doesn’t officially begin until late July with training camps. That’s more than three months away. “What’s the hurry?” say the optimists. This’ll get done sooner rather than later.

Not if attorneys are involved.

Now getting the two sides to agree to such a move poses yet another problem. Goodell, if he really means what he says about wanting all this to just go away, is in a position to demand such a move.

He is the commish after all, the man with the power to make things happen. Yes, he does the owners’ bidding for the most part, but there are certain things he can do in the best interests of the game, in the best interests of the shield. This is one of those times.

In an economy still seeking to find a way out of its morass, neither side is gaining any sympathy with the paying public with their constant sniping. They play a silly game of name calling and finger pointing. They fight like spoiled little children.

They say things they later regret. Derrick Mason, for example, calling Goodell “a joke” is a prime example. The only joke is when Mason opens his mouth and words like that tumble out.

No doubt when this is all settled, the Baltimore wide receiver will come out and say something like, “Aw, I didn’t really mean it. It was all part of the rhetoric, you know. He’s really a good guy.”

It is time for Goodell to march in and for the attorneys to march out. It is time for these grownups to start acting like grownups. Both sides are losing the public relations battle with the fans.

And while they are certain to lose at least a fraction of their vast constituency because of all the childish behavior, both sides arrogantly believe the financial repercussions will be small. The game will thrive no matter what.

The sad part of this little play in way too many acts is that it’s true. The game will survive no matter what. Too bad it has been tarnished by the legal community.

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