I never actually thought it would come to this: but welcome to day one of the NFL Lockout. To be honest, I'm already tired of the he-said she-said back and forth nature of the lockout, but I feel a similar sentiment to what Robert Kraft expressed in his team-issued statement:
Going into these union negotiations, I was very optimistic that an agreement could be reached before the end of December if both sides were committed to the negotiations. The same was true as we approached the end of the NFL calendar year. We are fortunate to be operating in an industry that is thriving and I know that there was a deal to be done that was a win-win for both sides.
I know that Commissioner Goodell and his staff invested a tremendous amount of time and resources to negotiate an agreement that would benefit both parties and allow the league to continue to build for the future without interruption. I remained in constant contact with Roger and the members of the CEC this week and fully supported the proposal we made to the players' union on Friday. I think the actions of the union to end the mediation process and walk away from Friday's offer clearly showed their true intentions to take this process to litigation all along.
While disappointed by their action to decertify, I remain confident that an agreement will be reached and that the 2011 season will be played. I know that the owners are committed to this process, but that the quickest way to do so is through continued negotiation, not litigation. For the sake of all involved, the owners, the players and most importantly, the fans, I hope we return to the negotiating table very soon.
I think we can all agree that Kraft is right that the best way to move forward is through negotiation, not litigation. Unfortunately, going to court is now inevitable, as even if the NFL can prove the decertification a "sham," they will have to do so through the courts. In fact, the only way the NFL is able to lockout (without just ceasing operations), is because they simply do not recognize the decertification as legitimate. Clearly, it isn't, but whether the NFL is able to prove that in court.
There's only so much of this mess I can take. I think the best thing we can do at this point is sit back, cross our fingers, and keep our time consumed with draft talk (which will still be taking place). Of course, we'll keep you updated to some extent here, but I suggest going to ProFootballTalk for more of the nitty-gritty details.