League’s Labors Lost

Well, my prediction about the NFL labor situation is looking a little shaky, but it’s still hanging in there.  Some are calling it Litagation-geddon, the idea being that once this gets into the courts, the gloves will come off and things will go about as well as the Creed-Drago fight.  But I still don’t think things are nearly that bad.

To explain why, allow me a tangent.  Years ago a co-worker of mine had a father who was a lawyer.  He made a large chunk of his income representing clients who were bringing suit against Walt Disney World for various claims, be it injuries on a ride, poor treatment by team members, you name it.  And she said they were the easiest cases he ever had because Disney would simply settle nearly every single time rather than see the case go to trial.

Because trials are these nasty, inconvenient things where you’re required to produce evidence and such.  And Disney was — and remains — absolutely terrified of having to go into a courtroom and provide details about how they operate.  Not only would it give the competition potentially damaging insight into how Disney operates, but anything that peels back the magic mirror Disney works so hard to create is to be avoided at all costs.  They figure the money paid in a settlement is worth it when set against the potential bad press they’d get from a trial.

Well, I think the players are doing the equivalent of suing Disney.  I think they’re banking that the owners will eventually become so panicked about the possibility of being required by a judge to reveal all the information the players have been asking for, that the owners will cave in and give the players the deal they want.  Because if anyone doesn’t want people to see what’s behind the curtain more than Disney, it’s NFL owners.  None of them want the books opened to reveal payrolls littered with nieces and nephews, or private jets being written off against the team.

So I think we’ll see some legal posturing and some saber-rattling, and then there’ll be a new proposal from the owners — probably within days of whenever the whole thing is due to go to court — and that’ll be that.  Both sides will be able to say they didn’t blink — both went through with their threats — and the owners will avoid the exposure they so dread.

And then all will be well until eight or ten years from now when the new agreement runs out.

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