Are these the final hours before we head into some grim, inconceivable post-apocalyptic life without NFL football?
Surely, many of you have set up a backup generator in your den to allow you to watch DVDs of old games and keep your beer cold while the football-less world crumbles outside your shelter.
My advice: Stay strong, brothers and sisters. Sanity will prevail in time.
Even if the NFL labor dispute is not settled by tonight’s 8:59 PST deadline, if owners invoke a lockout, or the players decertify their union, too much is at stake to let this turn into nuclear winter.
Some of the primary issues: An extended, 18-game season, a rookie wage scale, and, most critically, the owners’ interest in altering the percentage of revenues earmarked for players.
If the players decertify their union, it could open the way for litigation to challenge the league’s antitrust status. If owners call a lockout, free-agency and player trades would be halted. Players’ bonuses and benefits would be suspended.
Most believe the players gained leverage with a district court ruling Tuesday that the owners had inappropriately salted away $4 billion in TV money as a cushion against hardship in case of a work stoppage.
It could affect the delicate balance: It’s the owners’ ball, but the players are the product.
The Seattle Seahawks seem more vulnerable to the potential effects than most teams, as they entered the offseason with 25 free agents and a vastly revamped coaching staff.
In the case of a lockout, the new offensive coordinator, offensive line coach (and assistant head coach), quarterbacks coach and others will not have the customary offseason training activities to get players up to speed on new schemes.
Beyond that, what players would they have to coach, anyway?
The Hawks have been mildly active as this has approached, tendering an offer to defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and extending a contract with running back/returner Leon Washington.
But veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck remains unsigned, and it appears unlikely the free agent will have a new deal by the deadline.
Both sides have made the appropriate public statements of mutual, unwavering affection. Hasselbeck is a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has expressed loyalty to the team and an affinity for the community. But there are practical realities at play, too.
For the Hawks, few would doubt that it would be nice to have Hasselbeck around to mentor a new quarterback at the least, and in the best case, to be the quarterback he’s shown he can still be when he has adequate protection and a diversionary running attack.
That he’s 35 and has been injured a great deal creates limits on his contract value to the team in terms of years and amount. From his perspective, it may make better business sense to enter the open market – whenever that might happen.
Seahawks management has conceded that the quarterback issue is absolutely fundamental to the franchise’s future. If there were conviction that Hasselbeck’s being retained is the best option, it seems that a deal would have been struck by now.
But without a labor deal in place, no one will have a clue where the Hawks stand relative to the most important position on the field.
At least for a while.
Cooler minds believe there is too much money to be lost – reports place the industry ‘s annual revenues at $9 billion – for the madness to continue into the fall.
Especially without their $4 billion war chest, owners face giant losses. Players are even more fiscally vulnerable, and have the added biological imperative of watching the clock ticking on careers that average less than four seasons.
And the cost to society? Imagine the forces of chaos that will be unleashed this fall if all those Fantasy Football players are turned loose on other pursuits.
I think we used to call that Mutually Assured Destruction, and it might be the most convincing factor leading to the eventual resolution of this dispute.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org