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NFL, union to go over cliff?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell arrives at the Federal

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell arrives at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building in Washington. (Mar. 10, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

With time ticking down on what could be the doomsday scenario of decertification by the NFL Players Association and a lockout by the NFL, sports business consultant Marc Ganis offered a sobering assessment of what might happen in the event the two sides can't come to terms on a new collective baragining agreement. 

Ganis, who has done consulting work for several NFL stadiums, believes a deal can and should be made before the decertification/lockout nightmare scenario materializes. If not? 

"It’s going to drag out unnecessarily," said Ganis, president and founder of Chicago-based SportsCorop. "The deal they’re going to strike some months from now after inflicting a lot of pain on each other is going to be very close to the deal they could strike today."

Negotiations have been tense for several days, and there has been a lack of substantial progress since last Thursday, when the two sides agreed to the first of two extensions to the CBA expiration. The talks are now set to expire at 5 p.m. tomorrow. 

Ganis suggests that both sides realize that they're inextricably joined together, regardless of what happens next. 

"I’m not going to blame one side or the other, but you both go down together," he said. "These guys, whether they like it or not, they're arm-in-arm, wherever they go. That includes going over the cliff. They’ll find their way to the bank together. They’ll find their way over the cliff together. They don’t go either place separately.

"Hopefully there will come a time when they’ve inflicted enough pain on each other, twhen the lawyers think they’ve gotten enough in legal fees, and they and they will actually sit down and negotiate what is a reasonable and rational deal. There is one there. There are many ways to achieve a reasonable, rathional deal. The players want to play? Great. They owners want games, too. They absolutely do. No one wants to not play games, except maybe some lawyers who would get fees."

Ganis also finds it odd that the two sides are in somewhat unusual positions as far as what they're seeking in negotiations.

"We're in a bizzaro world," he said. "You have the workers who want to get rid of the union and management that wants to keep the union in place. You’ve got management filing a complaint at the National Labor Relations Board, not the union. You've got the union wanting to battle the matter out in a courtroom, and you’ve got management wanting to battle it out at the NLRB. This is very strange. It’s usually the reverse. All of those points are usually the reverse."

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