As Giants veteran center and player rep Shaun O’Hara stepped off the Bergen Catholic High field after his team’s most recent informal workout Wednesday, he told the assembled media why the 39 players attended.
“We’re trying to get better,” he said. “We’re trying to get ready for the season, whenever that is.”
That “whenever” clause is the operative part of that sentence. Nobody knows when the NFL will get back to real work. But the owners’ recent actions, even as confidential negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement resumed for a second week in what an NFL.com source called "very serious talks," may indicate that the end of this lockout is months away, at best.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the owners are preparing for an eight-game season. And that’s not even the worst-case scenario, which would entail a season-long closedown.
But salvaging half a season is no bargain, either. Former Giants offensive lineman and TV analyst Roman Oben told SBJ that an eight-game season would turn the Super Bowl from the league’s showcase event into a consolation prize.
“You have to talk about there being a gap in the product on the field because players didn't get enough time to prepare properly for the rigors of the football season,” he said. “Everything will get affected.”
The contingency has the season starting in late November. Given that five weeks would be necessary for free agency, an abridged training camp and perhaps one preseason game, a new CBA would have to be negotiated around Oct. 16 for the Super Bowl to be played as scheduled on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. Super Bowl organizers have told the league they can push it back a week if necessary.
How that half-schedule would look — how many division games, conference games, and non-conference games each team would play — is still a work in progress.
“We have contingency planning for our contingency planning,” commissioner Roger Goodell said at last month’s owners meeting.