With the news that players union decertified and the league has officially locked them out, fans are left with scores of questions.
The two most pressing are:
Will there be football in 2011?
Did the Players turn down a good deal?
Let's tackle the first one: probably.
The truth is that while a settlement would have guaranteed football in 2011, the union's move to decertify may have accomplished the same purpose. In a nutshell, the courts will decide. Here are two excellent 'what happens now' articles. The first explains in detail the legal maneuverings.
Most immediately, free agency won’t happen until a court order is entered blocking a lockout, or until a lockout is resolved via a new labor deal. To the extent that fans are rooting for an outcome, they should be rooting for the players’ strategy to succeed, quickly.
If it does, we’ll have a full offseason and football while the fight shifts to the courtroom.
9. Assuming there is no deal between NFL and NFLPA and assuming Judge Doty rules in favor of NFLPA -- meaning the lockout would be given the red light -- players would obtain tremendous leverage in negotiations. They could decertify and bring antitrust lawsuits and the league wouldn't be able to block those lawsuits. The players, however, would likely not decertify in this situation (or, if already decertified, they would recertify), since they are reasonably comfortable with the terms of the current CBA and it would remain in effect until a new CBA is reached. In this scenario, NFL teams would operate as normal and the 2011 season would be restored -- at least until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reviews Doty's decision.
No matter how you feel about the players or the owners, the best result for fans is that the courts side with the players, at least in the short run. Because of the ramifications for Indianapolis as a city, my central priority is getting a 2011 season played. After that, both sides can rip each other to shreds like dogs for all I care. Indy needs the Super Bowl revenue.