The predictable end

They said it was always going to end this way, with the NFL Players Association decertifying and the owners locking the players out. They said this is a normal part of the process. They said that until consequences were real and ripe and understood, nothing would really get done.

The experts have said all of this for awhile now. They were right. The NFLPA decertified Friday afternoon. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the owners, naming players such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady as plaintiffs in the antitrust case. The owners locked players out.

There was no deviation from the script. In fact, the ending was so predictable that I nearly drove my car off the highway laughing as Jeff Pash and the owners claimed a reasonable deal was left on the table by the union. Throughout this all, both sides have employed the same rhetoric: “We’re committed to making a deal. A deal will get done.”

But why the lawsuits and drama? Why the decertification and lockout? Why the haggling in front of microphones instead of behind closed doors?

Listen, I know this is a process. I know the situation is ever-changing. But we knew this day was coming for years — ever since the owners exercised their right to terminate the collective bargaining agreement in 2008.

I find it hard to believe a deal couldn’t have been reached in the near-three-year-span after the owners opted out of the CBA. If both sides were really committed to making a deal, we would’ve had one a long time ago.

This wouldn’t be a fight — a fight fit for Washington — if there wasn’t a little drama involved. A little posturing. A little negotiating through the media. And now this case will find its way into a Minnesota courtroom, where a U.S. District judge will hear a star-studded list of plaintiffs take issue with their employer.

Really, we’ll be right back where we started. The same rhetoric will be employed: “We’re committed to making a deal. A deal will get done.” The same political bantering will flood the airwaves. The same optimism will trick fans into being hopeful.

Yes, we’ve been here before.

For all the talk over the last week about progress and compromise and optimism, it wasn’t enough to prevent a lockout. It wasn’t enough to keep this out of the courtroom. It wasn’t enough to split $9 billion in a way that makes everyone happy.

That day will eventually come — whether it’s in a few months or two weeks into the regular season. A deal will be reached. Football will be played. Fans will be happy. But what won’t stop us from wondering: Why did it have to be so hard?

Scott Miller is a senior at The University of Iowa and a contributor to the National Football Post. Follow him on Twitter: @stmillr.

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