After some initial speculation by NFL observers that the league would add another spin to this whole mess by opting to not lock the players out, the expected outcome of yesterday's NFLPA decertification came down late last night. The NFL has officially locked the players out.
So the big question on every NFL fan's mind is, what's next?
Both sides have now had their chance to grandstand. NFL general counsel Jeff Pash made an impassioned statement yesterday (that link also includes retorts from NFLPA outside counsel Jim Quinn). Pash insisted that the NFL made several concessions, and that they were willing to meet in the middle on the wide financial gap.
While those statements may very well be true, it's important to keep in mind that the NFL Owners were the ones to create this gap in the first place, when they asked for an additional billion dollars. Essentially the NFL is claiming they are the ones who tried to "bridge the gap" with their offers yesterday, while leaving out the fact that they are the ones who demolished the original bridge in the first place.
For the years leading up to present events, the players threatened to decertify the NFLPA. They have now done that. The league, in response to those threats, has always promised they would then lock the players out. They have now done that.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of room for hope for a quick resolution, but as former NFL player Ross Tucker put so well on his Twitter page, "...decertification is toothpaste that actually can be put back into the tube. At any time."
Now that both sides have called each other's bluff, perhaps after a break from the recent heavy negotiations, they can get back in the room and bang this thing out. The popular assumption is that the players will have a distinct advantage in the courtroom. This, of course, is the reason for the league's popular "the players always wanted litigation" refrain.
Both sides may want to see how the early "rounds" go in the courtroom before returning to the negotiating table. However, if the players gain early victories, they would frankly have no reason to go back to the table unless they are serious about wanting to play football more than they are serious about getting every dollar.