John Mara said he is optimistic that a deal still can be reached between the NFL’s owners and players without affecting the 2011 season. But the Giants' owner has also made preparations in case he’s wrong.
“We have all made preparations to prepare for the worst case,” Mara said Tuesday of the possibility of no games in 2011 during an interview on 1050 ESPN Radio. “I think we are well prepared for it. It is certainly not going to be easy. And it is certainly not the preferred route. But if we have to go that way, I think most of the clubs are going to be able to deal with it.”
Mara reiterated his statements from last week, when he said that he thought the players were intent on decertifying their union during negotiations in Washington and were therefore not fully committed to the process. “It just seemed like the past couple of weeks, we may as well have been sitting there staring at ourselves because not a lot was getting done,” he said.
But Mara said he does believe that it will get done.
“I believe that there will be a 2011 season,” he said. “I still am trying to retain an optimistic view about this, because as I have said repeatedly so far, there is a fair deal out there to be negotiated. Unfortunately we are going to have to go through this litigation phase now and see how that plays out, which is just going to delay everything. But at some point in time we are going to be sitting across the table from one another and we are going to have to negotiate a deal.”
Mara said that he couldn’t put a timeline on that negotiation – the next big date in the process is April 6 when the players will ask for an injunction to enjoin the lockout – but noted that things probably won’t get sticky and tense until later this year.
“I don’t think that the players are interested in missing games and missing paychecks,” he said. “Certainly the owners don’t want to see that happen. So I think as we get through the summer and closer to training camp, it would be hard for me to believe that we are not able to sit down and negotiate a fair deal, because there is enough money out there for everyone. It is just a question of how it is allocated.
“It is still only March,” he added. “We still have a long way to go before training camps open. But meanwhile you have 500 free agents out there looking for teams. There is a lockout going on, and it affects everybody. But it just takes two sides wanting to sit down and negotiate a deal. Right now, unfortunately, we only have one.”