I'm heading down to Atlanta for the meetings of the NFL owners. I suspect a deal will be reached tomorrow, that the lockout will end and the rush to sign free agents will begin.
I don't think that anybody close to the negotiations ever expected games to be lost.
When a deal is cut, the owners are not going to claim, "We won," unless the words come from a rogue owner who later will be shunned by his peers. Owners will say that the league won, which is to say that the fans won.
I'm told that Jerry Richardson, the owner of the Carolina Panthers, has fought for the integrity of small-market teams such as his.
That's important. The NBA offers no protection for small-market teams. The Charlotte Bobcats, despite the star power of Michael Jordan, are in position where, even to have a chance to avoid losing money, they have to do everything right. While the rich get richer, small market teams shrink.
Their system has to be reworked, and the players will have to decide whether to accept responsiblity for helping rework it. Is it the obligation of employees to ensure that their employer is in a position to make money?
Unless the employer has made frivolous decisions, I say yes.
The NFL has thrived for many reasons, one of which is a real salary cap.
The league's success is legendary and, after tomorrow, it will continue to be.
Once an agreement is reached, the accent will be not on what happened but on what happens next.
It will be like the ACC men's basketball tournament. Fun to keep up with, cool to watch, glad you determined a champion, now bring on the NCAA tournament.
Once the league's future is secure, it will immediately be about the future of their team.
The mad scramble for free agents will be unprecedented, stock exchange traders holding up money and shouting out names. Be interesting to see whose voices are the loudest.