As NFL owners and players creep closer to their April 6 court hearing that will determine the legality of the lockout, the prospects for getting the season going grow ever dimmer.
No matter how U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson of Minnesota rules, appeals will be available to both sides. And with the owners apparently willing to settle in for the long haul, the 2011 season remains in jeopardy.
Both sides have acknowledged that by their actions. The NFLPA will start compensating eligible veterans up to $60,000 from a so-called “lockout fund,” beginning April 15. The Giants, in a singular break from 31 other teams that have demanded at least partial ticket payment beforehand, have told their season-ticket holders they can hold off until the labor crisis is resolved.
Meanwhile, the three-day draft at Radio City Music Hall is still scheduled to commence April 28, though it’s questionable how many of the potential top 20 picks will show for the traditional handshake with the commissioner. The NFLPA, seeking maximum owner nose-tweekage, will meet Monday to discuss staging an alternative event elsewhere in which a veteran of the matching team welcomes the rookie in a live-streamed webcast.
The situation has grown no clearer than it was on March 11, when the lockout took effect. But both sides understand it could end just as easily. Yet, the simplest timetable ranges from April 7 to next winter, despite Roger Goodell’s recent assertion that he, personally, would not hesitate in buying 2011 tickets.
Ravens cornerback and NFLPA Executive Committee member Domonique Foxworth gave perhaps the most level-headed appraisal of the situation to date when he told the Daily News this week, “No one wants to read about ‘We said this, they said that.’ ... It’s embarrassing to be a part of that. ... We just want to play.”