The turning point for these Oakland Raiders really began in Tampa Bay at the end of the 2008 season. That is when this team started to pick their noses up out of the dirt after the Super Bowl loss to their former coach John Gruden and the Buccaneers. Six years later, at the end of the 2008 season, the Raiders knocked the Bucs out of the playoffs. Then the Bucs proceeded to fire Gruden and it all came full circle. That was the day when the Raiders started moving forward as a group of men led by a rebellious coach; from the depths of the NFL they came forth with intent to compete at a high level, from that day forward.
Now led by new head coach Hue Jackson the Raiders have a group of individuals who have it instilled in themselves to fight hard for one another, and to become what they believe they are capable of becoming. Fifty-three men committed to one purpose – to win the Super Bowl. But first things first. There is that little issue of there actually being a season in 2011.
The ongoing labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA is about player salaries, how many games should be played each season, rookie wage scales, and most likely countless other things that we may or may not yet be aware of. So it stands to reason, like all good things in life, we may have to wait to see what the rebuilt Raiders are capable of accomplishing.
While some may speculate that the NFLPA was the group that backed out of a scheduled meeting this week, it turns out it was actually the NFL brass who pulled out of the conference. According to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, “When the NFLPA characterized documents labeled ‘NFLPA Proposal’ as something other than a collective bargaining proposal, the NFL ended the session.”
Then they decided to cancel another meeting scheduled for last Wednesday.
"As often happens in collective bargaining, the parties reached a point where there was a fundamental difference on a critical issue that was not going to be reconciled that day," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "The discussions were adjourned to permit both parties to assess their positions and consider how to move the process forward.”
Following this “fundamental difference” of opinion, Roger Goodell contacted all 32 NFL owners together via a conference call to address the “progress” (or lack thereof) that had been made between the two sides.
According to an NFL source, all 32 team owners were unanimously in agreement on what developments had occurred, though the sentiment of the owners was not revealed by the source.
In spite of the session that was aborted as well as the cancelled meeting Wednesday, sources report that talks have continued between Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith as well as other smaller working groups. An unnamed NFL player involved with the NFLPA said the two sides will meet at some point in the next week.
However, Smith made a decision to release the owners’ counter-proposal to players and their agents instead of discussing it with NFL management and that has driven a rift between the two sides. Another speed bump in the process will be getting the NFLPA over the fence on their fundamental belief that the owner’s proposal is completely unreasonable.
Knowledgeable sources who previously believed the two sides would reach an agreement by the lockout date of March 5th are now losing their faith in this process and are starting to waver towards a potentially long and drawn out lockout that could affect the number of games played in 2011. One source said last week's hullabaloo was symbolic and shone light on just how far apart the two sides actually are.
This could all be smoke in the air meant to draw attention to the NFL and generate more television exposure during a time when there is not much else happening in the NFL, or it could be the beginning of a long road to final negotiations between the two sides.
My conclusion from all of this mess is that everybody needs to take the pacifiers out of their mouths and change their stinky diapers. Otherwise the NFL and NFLPA may end up digging their own graves -- and if that happens, then nobody is going to get paid anything. Ultimately, both sides need to come full circle and start working together and fight for each other like the Raiders have begun to do. That way they can move forward as a group and begin to achieve the goal that is in the best interest of everyone – committing to the same purpose of increased revenue from this day forward.
Follow me on Twitter: Raidersblogger
Hit us up on Facebook
Sadly, These are two groups of people for whom I have very little sympathy or empathy. Had I been blessed with the tools I would gladly have played football for as long as possible and for a fair wage and a solid health care plan. I certainly understand a players concern that they could be seriously injured or even killed. Their careers could be ended with the simplest mistake. I have that reservation every time I throw my leg over my motorcycle. So I train to exploit my survival skills and I buy good insurance against disaster to support the pastime I love. Anyone who drives more than ten minutes to work every day puts more at risk daily than any of these players do on "Any Given Sunday." Think about it. When was the last time you heard of a firefighter or a oil rigger making $7 million a year to feed the life blood of our civilization or save a child from a burning building. Incidently it is far more than I/we will ever get for having served our country. So now we get to the quintessential difference. Why are any of us risking it all? The players used to do it for sport like when I ride or you do when you jog, golf, shoot hoops or bicycle. But now it seems most of them do it because they are so good at it that I/we will pay to watch them do it. And a lot of them seem overly focused on getting every last penny from us that they can for it. There is as much hype surrounding the latest round of who commands the biggest paycheck in their position than there is about who is the champion. Seriously how many headlines about the champions do we see three days after the Superbowl? They tell us of their pain and the outrageous exploitation of their handlers in hopes that we will accept that nothing less than a lifetime of salary is enough to make a single season worth their efforts. You know the average fan NEVER gets to the stadium for a game? It just costs too much for most to even consider. Enter the owners. The PT Barnums of sport and extortionists on the grandest scale. They put the players, their skills, dreams and in the beginning, their love of sport, directly between themselves and those who would pay to see the spectacle. They tell us of their modest gains and blame the egos of the players we adore. They build coliseums to "enhance the experience" that carefully separate the fans into the working classes and the elite to maximize revenues. Ultimately these two groups are people who could quite simply walk away with fortunes and never be bothered to work again. The players having achieved the highest level of competition and the owners having dabbled in the world's most expensive hobby. Both with a genuine understanding of the phrase "there is a sucker born every minute."
Right now it seems both sides are just postering. The closer we get to March 5th, the more we will see sides being willing to bend on demands. I see the owners getting the best on this one.
everyone kept saying 'there's too much money involved, a lockout won't happen' ... well, it's not just about money. it's about each side's pride ... the more stubborn they are, the longer this will take. They had better pull their heads out of their ass or this BETTER BE A PLOY to get ratings like you said Bret, or they will lose MANY FANS just as baseball did with it's lockout in the 90's.