Yesterday was "CBA Day" for all the fans of the NFL. It was the day the four month long lockout would end, and the 2011 season would be saved. The players and owners had come to an agreement on a new 10-year Collective Bargaining plan that would ensure peace in the NFL through the 2020 season.
Well, we got half way there.
The NFL owners voted 31-0, with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders abstaining, to ratify the deal. The only issue? The players have yet to vote.
Originally, the plan had been for the players to vote for approval on Wednesday, and the owners would do the same on Thursday. But, the players only voted for a "confidence" in NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith, giving him the power to complete all the remaining items before the deal could be reached.
So, then the plan became the players would vote on Thursday, followed by the owners that evening.
And again, no vote from the players.
The owners waited until 6pm EDT to vote. When they did, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, stated "We've created a long-term agreement that can be good for the game of football." He continued, "It's time to get back to football. That's what everybody here wants to do."
Someone should have told the Players' "trade association" that. The players immediately began expressing their frustration that, even though the owners had given them to full days to vote, the owners would vote before the players, allowing the owners to appear victorious as the players waited.
Smith immediately emailed all 1,800 NFL players, stating, "Issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open; others issues, such as worker's compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms, remain unresolved. There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time."
Meanwhile, the owners expressed their disbelief at the players reactions. Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, "That's baffling to me. We believe we have handshake agreement with the players."
And still, they wait.
An 8pm EDT conference call to all the 32 team representatives last night led to - well, nothing. The player's say that the owners did not provide them copies of the CBA they had ratified until after the conference call. Included in this late delivery were the "finishing notes" - the final details that the players required before they could agree to any deal.
And still, they wait.
The players have started to ease their criticism of the owners as they read the CBA and the finishing details, with the claims that the owners had ratified a plan full of things not negotiated falling off. The optimism that seemed to disappear yesterday apparently returned overnight, as the player's plan to ratify the CBA sometime Friday.
And still, they wait.
However, even after both sides ratify the agreement, the lockout could remain in place. The NFL wants to the NFLPA to recertify as a union before they will open the doors to the players. The players want to the NFL to allow them back in, where they will all sign their union cards at the team's training facilities. The NFL claims that electronic signatures, emailed from all the players, should be enough to satisfy the requirements for recertification, with the entire process done in about an hour. The NFLPA says the process has to be deliberate and could take up to 2-weeks. Both sides continue ot debate over the process, as the NFL sees it as a way to prove that the decertification was a "sham" for future CBA negotiations, while the players are demanding the deliberate steps to show that decertification was a real process.
Last night, after the all the CBA ratification rabble rousing, Smith and Goodell reportedly worked out a "trust me" deal to allow the players to reports back to team facilities, while the NFLPA worked out its recertification process.
The news from the owners side wasn't all good, however. Goodell, in his announcement of the owners' ratification, announced the cancelling of the Hall of Fame Game. The game, scheduled to be held August 7th, would not have allowed the Chicago Bears or the St. Louis Rams ample time to prepare.
As for the CBA, and the end to the madness, the NFL has given the players until Tuesday to ratify the deal and recertify as a union. Then they would have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to collectively bargain any changes to the CBA from the previous agreement. Included in this process are drug testing, player's conduct, ad safety.
Also, still to be determined is the settlement process for the Brady vs. NFL anti-trust case. It is believed that the CBA's ratification would satisfy the court, and allow for a settlement, but the 10-players involved in the case still could receive benefits outside of the CBA.
As CBA Day came and passed, there was no collective bargaining agreement. The owners agreed among themselves on a deal at which the players balked. Then the players said it might be okay, But, the players want a deliberate (and slow) process to recertify as a union, ensuring that the decertification is seen as a legal tactic for future CBA disagreements. The fans, meanwhile, continue to get nothing.
And still, we wait.