To the NFL, March, April, May and June are Disposable -- July Is Not

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 16: NFL owners John Mara (L) of the New York Giants and Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals leave court-ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 16, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners that followed a breakdown of labor talks between the two in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

SB Nation's Ed Valentine pointed out something interesting about the fact that the NFL Lockout has extended beyond 100 days. That interesting thing, which I think many people have forgotten, is that nothing has been missed yet. 

Various reports I came across this morning mentioned that the NFL Lockout passed the 100-day mark over the weekend. Truth is, though, that while this is technically the longest work stoppage in NFL history, the important stuff -- training camp, the preseason and the regular season -- have not yet been affected.

Both sides can afford to play hardball right now. After all, neither side really has anything to lose right now. That is going to be changing really quickly though. 

Valentine quoted a Philadelphia Inquirer article written by Phil Sheridan, who sums up the upcoming month for the NFL. Sheridan said:

... the league and its players went into this process without any real urgency to get a deal done. March, April, May, and June were always disposable. Lo and behold, they have been disposed of.

Now July is knocking. July was not, and is not, disposable.

If the lockout extends into and through July, teams will miss minicamps. The lockout needs to come to an end by July 15 for the Bengals to hold their minicamp at Georgetown College in Kentucky. If the lockout extends to and through August, the NFL loses the preseason. Then, if the lockout extends to and through September, the regular season gets cut into.

While there wasn't any pressure from March through June, when the owners and players cross June 30 off their calendars, they'll start to feel the squeeze to get a deal done.

The owners may know that the pressure is coming. They will all be getting together on Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago to discuss the status of the labor negotiations. This marks the first time since the lockout began that the owners have gathered to discuss nothing but the labor situation. 

This has come on the heals of a warning from the one of the judges that make up the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said that if the two sides don't come to a deal before the court makes their ruling on the appeal, neither side will be happy with the decision.

Fearful of a ruling in which both sides lose -- for example, the lockout could be allowed to continue, but only until it reaches six month, which would be four days after the regular season opens -- Goodell, lead negotiator Jeff Pash and a handful of owners have met with Smith and a group of players over the past three weeks. Out of those talks has come word of movement and an atmosphere of cooperation, a far cry from the rhetoric and court actions of the previous months.

If it's possible for both sides to lose the court case, and it certainly is, they may finally start feeling the pressure to come to an agreement. We're coming to a time when a deal needs to be made in order to have a normal offseason and hopefully both sides know that.

Hopefully, for the sake of every NFL fan around the world, the owners figure something out during their two-day meeting starting tomorrow and get the ball rolling on a deal.

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