For months, we had to hear about how March 3, 2011 was NFL Armageddon. The owners will lock out the players. The players will decertify. Birds will fall from the sky. Zombies will rise from the dead. Yada, yada, yada.
And what happens? The two sides agree to extend the deadline for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for at least another 24 hours. That is where we start this week's "five."
1. Both parties agreeing to a deadline extension is a positive sign. I don't expect a new deal to get done by the end of business today. But I do think the two sides will be working towards extending the negotiating window by coming up with a new deadline for an agreement that provides enough time for the parties involved to work out the critical issues. One day simply isn't enough time for that. But one additional day does provide them enough time to agree upon how long the actual deadline extension should be.
Even if the above doesn't make sense, here's the bottom line. The owners have been threatening a lockout for months now - but suddenly changed course and agreed to this extension. Why? Because the owners don't really want a lockout anymore - not after losing the "lockout insurance" case. Now the owners will not collect payments from the television networks if football isn't played in 2011. That means owners that have substantial debt (particularly ones who have recently built stadiums) will have to dip into their own pockets to repay their creditors. And not even billionaires like doing that.
The players, meanwhile, really don't want to decertify. They feel like they may have to - but they don't want to. Decertification would only create more headaches. And it would only draw this mess out longer and result in heading to court. Trust me - antitrust court is not a quick and easy stage for this to play out on. We'd be talking about months of litigation instead of just weeks of mediation.
Neither party wants Friday's deadline to pass. They don't want the CBA to officially expire. They don't want a lockout. Once both parties can admit this to each other, we'll see significant movement and get much closer to a deal.
2. What about the little people being affected by this CBA mess? You know - the men and women who rely on their second job working at the concession stands on Sundays, for example, to make ends meet. Or the guys and gals who work full time in the ticket office who will be taking pay cuts or furloughs while this mess plays out. Everybody is fixated on how this is a case of "billionaires vs millionaires." But the trickle down effect can't be forgotten.
3. The Dolphins are putting themselves in very good position this offseason. I liked the decision to use the franchise tag on Paul Soliai. And I like the re-signing of Richie Incognito. Whether he plays center or right guard, the Dolphins have avoided creating another hole - which will allow them to fill in their more glaring holes in April's draft and through free agency (if a new CBA ever gets done).
The people who are against the new deal given to Incognito baffle me. Richie was (at the very worst) an average left guard. I think he could be at least a top 15 starting center - maybe top 10. And because he is versatile enough ti play any of the three interior line spots, his re-signing doesn't restrict what the Dolphins can do in the draft.
4. The winners of a potential NFL lockout? That's easy - personal trainers like Pete Bommarito, who expect to triple their client base this offseason if players are unable to take part in their team's offseason training program.
5. Ever get caught picking your nose and eating it on cable television? Probably not. Most people haven't. But Wisconsin guard and NFL Draft hopeful John Moffitt isn't "most people." This kind of video makes you wonder what the hell goes through some people's minds. You have to know there are NFL Networks cameras everywhere during the Combine.