Forget about the Jets over the Colts in Super Bowl III and the Giants spoiling the Patriots' perfect season in the Super Bowl a few years ago. We could be on the verge of seeing one of the biggest upsets in NFL history.
It appears that the NFL owners and players just might be headed to an agreement that would end a possible lockout before it ever really gets started.
According to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports and some other sources, a dramatic turnaround has taken place that may, just may, lead to a new collective bargaining agreement sooner than anyone thought.
With both sides seemingly focused on winning rather than on coming to a reasonable compromise, thinks looked bleak going into yesterday's 11th-hour mediation session. The over/under line for getting a deal done is sometime in August or early September. Even the most optimistic observers thought that it would be great if something could get done before the the April 28 draft. And you didn't have to be too far on the doom and gloom side to see at least some of the season being lost to the labor strife.
But things turned around yesterday. Until Thursday, the owners line has been that the players had to take the billion-dollar per year pay cut, play 18 regular-season games, and take their proposal for a rookie salary cap or go pound sand.
But, for reasons unknown but that we will speculate on in a minute, the owners made some meaningful concessions. That sparked some hope, leading to the 24-hour extension.
It seems that the owners were spooked by the prospect of bringing the case to the courts, especially the court of Judge David Doty, whose rulings generally have not gone in favor of the owners. With the union set to decertify, the owners faced the prospect of the whole process being thrown to the courts, where they would lose control of the process. And if there is one thing that a business person hates it is not being in control.
So they will take a shot at actually negotiating instead of trying to pound the players into submission.
We will know by the end of the day today whether or not there will be labor peace or if all hell will break loose. Silver said, "if such an announcement [of another extension of 1-2 weeks] is made, both sides would view that as an almost ironclad statement that a deal is forthcoming – and a work stoppage will have been averted."
That would be good news for all involved.