Beginning tomorrow morning, and hopefully continuing for most of the week, NFL owners will meet in Chicago with NFL representatives to discuss, among other things, a general outline for a possible revenue agreement with league players. In the 100-plus days since the beginning of the work stoppage, in the dozens of meetings and court cases and lawsuits and appeals and personal attacks in the media, there has never been a more critical moment. Make no mistake; what happens this week in Chicago will ultimately decide, one way or the other, if there will be football in 2011.
If the talks break down – if two or more of the owners decide they don’t agree with the general outline or are unwilling to give any more in the way of compensation and bonuses than they’ve previously agreed to in prior proposals – there simply won’t be enough time to try again from the beginning. The illusion of a September start date will shatter completely, and instead of wondering – as we are now – if there will be training camp or a preseason, we’ll instead start wondering how many games we might be able salvage, and how far into the fall we can go before calling off the season completely.