Tomorrow is a big day for the 2011 NFL Lockout. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (AKA The Supreme Bum-Outs) is expected to rule on the NFL's request for a permanent stay on the decision to lift the lockout. If they grant the stay the lockout will remain in place until the court hears and rules on Brady v NFL, or—and here's a novel idea—the two sides agree on a new CBA.
The thought had been that if the stay is denied then it would be open season in the NFL. Free agents would sign, OTAs would begin, and everything else we are jonesing for would start. There seemed to be little alternative for the NFL. Well, that may have been asking for too much class out of the owners. There is a chance that should the stay be denied the owners will take their ball and go home.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the NFL could be prepared to completely shut down its doors, or as Florio says "go out of business." That way they would not be locking the players out but would be completely closing shop. Florio admits that this is just a rumor he is hearing, but Florio is not the type of reporter that is just going to throw out flimsy rumors. I imagine there is some teeth to this.
It certainly isn't a stretch to think the owners would do this. Florio reports the owners know they would look bad in the court of public opinion, but they also realize this is the last measure they have left to try and keep an upper hand in the negotiations. The question should be, is it worth it?
The scorn they are creating in the fans is costing them money. A move like this is going to cause some long-term damage in the fan base, which very likely could end up costing more than what they are fighting the players over in the first place. And for what? To say that they won?
Should this stay be denied it will be the second time in less than two weeks that fans thought they were about to see the start of the NFL year only to have it stripped away. You can only dangle something in front of us and pull it away so many times before we stop caring. A prolonged work stoppage is beginning to seem inevitable, because the owners are going to throw temper tantrums until they get their way.
*Update Thought: If the owners do shut their doors as this rumored threat suggests that would have to include the coaches and staff right? And if it does include coaches then they could hang out with the players right? And teams could get to work like normal only not at the team facilities and without being paid by the owners. For the players and teams to be prepared for the start of the season it would only financially benefit the owners, because the product would be of higher quality. The employees would still make the same salary.
Of course, if these teams got together and practiced what would stop them from putting on their own exhibitions/games for money? There would be cost at first, but I bet they could find new financial backers pretty easy, and at that point what would stop them from just creating a new league? This is insanity.