Andrew's answers: Tuesday's mailbag

Ok Andrew, now that the season’s over and the labor negotiations are in the news, you’re on the spot. Do you think there will be a lockout, yes or no? --Alan B.

That’s the $8.5 billion (amount of NFL gross revenues) question.

I am “cautiously optimistic” that there will be a new CBA by March. Why? One reason is because both an owner and a team player representative have told me they think that as well. The major reason, though, is follow the money. There is too much to lose for each side.

The owners have less to lose than the players, but still a considerable amount. As the Commissioner’s letter to fans noted, the owners are on public record in trying to make a deal. Meanwhile, uncertainty and confusion about the future detracts from their business, causing hesitation to invest in the product.

On the players’ side, a slice of their short careers is at stake and they all want certainty to their immediate future. Although salary payments don’t begin until September, many players have bonus payments due “at the start of the League Year”, scheduled for March 3, but only with a new CBA. The players need to make a deal.

I choose not to believe the doom and gloom attitude about a lockout. As for the rhetoric, that is not necessarily a bad thing. When that rhetoric stops, then I might worry about a work stoppage.

What is the effect of this arbitration hearing today about television contracts with the NFL that pay during a lockout? --Jerry M.

This may have significance. The NFLPA is claiming that the NFL made those deals as “lockout insurance” in lieu of potentially larger deals, in violation of the CBA. The question is did the NFL choose to hedge its bets against a lockout rather than negotiating the maximum revenue to be shared with the players?

A win here would be a tactical victory for the union and reduce a bit of the owners’ leverage towards making a deal.

You have mentioned coaches’ contracts may have special language due to a potential lockout. Can you elaborate? --Jeff G.

Negotiating reduced contracts for coaches in the event of a 2011 lockout has been discussed by the league and teams since 2007. Depending on the team, coaches’ contracts may be reduced or furloughed in the event of the imposition of a lockout, extended lockout or some graded adjustments along the way.

Of course, all negotiations come down to leverage. With some teams now looking to hire sought-after coaches (Jim Harbaugh, who looks like he is leaving my alma mater Stanford, comes to mind), “lockout language” may not be on the table. Options create leverage, and teams will have little chance of enforcing that in their contracts.

You always say Brett Favre is never done. You can't still think so? --Bill M.

I do think it less likely than it has ever been that Brett returns for another season although I do not rule it out. The only way to rule it out is to know that no coach/team will make overtures for him to return. Although it won't be the Vikings again -- they are ready to move on -- there are a lot of coaches out there that know Brett.

With the latest lawsuits by massage therapists at the Jets from his time there, it has been a forgettable year for Favre. Although Brett has great disdain for the present management at the Packers, he must certainly miss the cocoon of support and kid-glove treatment from the media that he received in Wisconsin.

As I have said before, Brett was not as great a person as he was made out to be in his prime with the Packers; and he is not as bad a person as he has been made out to be recently.

I always thought that Brett would one day like to do what Roger Clemens did in baseball at the end of his career: pick a contending team and show up midseason on a white horse ready to lead them to glory. I think Brett privately scoffed at the notion that it couldn’t be done in football due to schemes, patterns, etc.

We shall see in about six (or eight or ten) months.

I saw a story about the Stanford band being banned from the Orange Bowl last night. As a Stanford alum (and no, this is not about Harbaugh), what do you think about their antics? --Jeannette P.

They are legendary for witty irreverence and R-rated look at current events. My best friend at Stanford was a calm and brilliant guy in normal circumstances (he’s now an award-winning journalist) but when he was playing trombone for the Band, he became an entirely different person. The Band does that to people.

They have always performed a beautiful version of the Star Spangled Banner.

You spent a long time with the Packers and have consulted with the Eagles. Who are you rooting for Sunday? --Adam E.

I plead the Fifth (I have friends on both teams who read this). It should be a great game between two teams that I thought would meet deeper into the playoffs.

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