Players, owners now have the ball

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Eighth Circuit Court of appeals Judge Kermit Bye has kicked off to the team made up of the players and owners and expects them not to fumble.

After oral arguments were completed today in court, Bye encouraged the two sides to get back to the table and continue to negotiate and come to an agreement as soon as possible.

“We will take this case and render a decision in due course,” Bye was quoted as saying in published reports. “We won’t, I might also say, be all that hurt that you’re [players and owners] leaving us out if you should go out and settle the case. But that’s up to you. But we will keep with our business, and if that ends up with a decision, that’s probably something both sides are not going to like but at least it will be a decision.”

Reading between the lines, it’s clear what the judge is saying – roll up your sleeves, get to work and settle this mess because when the court does eventually come down with a decision, both sides are going to be disappointed.

So, while talks are expected to resume next week, it’s very possible  the court will hold off on issuing a decision and keep an eye on the negotiations.

But if the players and owners believe that awaiting a decision from the court is a good thing, they might be highly disappointed – not only because it may be detrimental to both sides’ arguments – but also because it might not come down until as late as the first part of July. That’s way too late as the start of training camp nears and the start of the regular season looms in about three months.

There were even some reports today citing officials claiming the lockout could last a year.

Would the owners and players be that foolish to give up $9 billion in revenue from the game that America is deeply in love with at the moment? Never before in the history of the league has there been more respect and adoration for both players and teams in the league.

Skipping games, even pre-season games, could be detrimental to many teams in the league – especially to those teams that are suffering already from fan support.

How sympathetic will fans of the Cincinnati Bengals or Carolina Panthers be if the lockout continues into the regular season and cancels games? Probably not very …

It’s touch and go now … the players and owners have the ball at the 20 after the kick-off and they’re back to first down with the opportunity to strike while the anvil is hot and hit the long bomb for a touchdown.

Or they could fumble the pitch.

We will soon see how it plays out.

Stay tuned …

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