DAY ONE OF MEETING BRINGS SOME OPTIMISM
The Commish made a pitch for his legacy on Tuesday.
Whether it did any good will be determined on Wednesday.
According to Dave Goldberg of The Associated Press, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue implored the 32 franchise owners not to return to the days of periodic labor unrest, but to reach a deal that extends the league's decade-plus run of peace and harmony.
Steelers chairman Dan Rooney described Tagliabue's speech as "Excellent. Super."
But Raiders owner Al Davis was a little more hesitant. "I love my country and I love my league," Davis said. "People who have been through this in the past want something good to come of it. What's good is another question."
And that's a big part of the problem, in our view. Many of the owners who are now wrangling over the issue of revenue sharing have never suffered through a work stoppage. Guys like Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, Bob Kraft, Jeffrey Lurie, Woody Johnson, John York, and Malcom Glazer, all of whom are believed to be among the nucleus of owners opposed to expanded revenue sharing, have no first-hand experience (and thus no first-hand understanding) of the consequences of shutting down the sport, or of the periodic threat of it.
In 1982, a strike shortened the regular season by seven games. In 1987, another strike shut down the NFL for one week, and was followed by three weeks of replacement players.
Even now, the possibility of a work stoppage is a full two years away. But, as we've said, if these guys can't get a deal done right now, when there are plenty of competitive reasons for doing so, we can't imagine them ever agreeing on a new plan for player compensation and free agency, either with or without a union on the other side of the table.
Still, it's too early to believe that a deal will get done now. Goldberg reports that there was doubt among many of the owners as to whether 24 of them could agree on any proposal.
At least for one day, however, the owners played nice. "We haven't punched anyone yet," Rooney said.
But if the fists are gonna fly, it'll be on Wednesday, as the effects of Tagliabue's Tuesday speech have begun to fade.
For everyone's sake, he needs to be ready to crank it up another notch once the voices of dissent begin to sound off as the day unfolds -- and as the latest deadline for getting under the current 2006 salary cap, 9:00 p.m. EST, approaches.