In a perfect world, or perhaps one that simply made sense, NFL owners and players wouldn't need a U.S. district judge in Minneapolis to tell them how to share their $9 billion toy.
In this sensible, pretend world, owners would go on slowly but surely adding to their average team value of $1.02 billion. Players would continue making their average of $1.8 million a year. Fans would continue frothing over the start of free agency with the kind fervor that has made the past two Super Bowls the two most-watched programs in the history of television.
Unfortunately, what unfolded Friday in Washington was anything but sensible. The players decertified their union and filed an anti-trust lawsuit. The owners locked out the players. The players filed for an injunction against the lockout. The owners challenged the decertification. It's all one big mess that threatens the 2011 season at the height of the NFL's popularity and profitability.
"You know," said Rhett Bomar, the Vikings' forgotten quarterback. "It really has become the worst-case scenario."
Bomar spoke for himself and all young prospects like him. He spoke for the Vikings and all the other teams in transition, and everybody else who needs normalcy over the next six months in order to get better. He also spoke for all of us who are sickened that negotiations have given way to name-calling and legal mumbo jumbo in front U.S. District Judge David S. Doty.
"Usually, in mid-March, I'd be heading back up there for the start of offseason workouts and two solid months of learning the offense before the OTAs even start," said Bomar, a 2009 fifth-round draft pick who was signed off the Giants' practice squad last December. "I'm in a situation where I'm on a team that doesn't have a returning starter at quarterback. There's a new offense to learn, and I can't even go up there or talk to the coaches for who knows how long. It's a very difficult situation."
Bomar is staying with a buddy in Dallas. He has been throwing to Rams receiver Danny Amendola, a guy with whom he has been friends since growing up as competitors and all-star teammates in Texas.
"It's nice to have an NFL receiver to throw to, but I'd rather be up there in Minnesota, getting in the playbook," Bomar said. "I'm working out. Lifting, running, throwing. I see what you see when it comes to the Vikings drafting a quarterback. I watch ESPN and the NFL Network and hear people say, 'The only quarterback the Vikings have now is Joe [Webb].' I'm like, 'Hey, man. I'm here, too.'
"All I've ever wanted was an opportunity to compete. There's an opportunity up there right now, but ..."
The labor standoff is in the way. As usual, the sticking point is money. Sticking points always are about the money.
The owners currently get $1 billion off the top before giving the players 59.5 percent of the rest. The owners went in asking for another $1 billion off the top. They lowered it to about $650 million and were offering to drop it to $325 million on Friday. The union offered $550 million over four years, which is about $137.5 million a year. So that's a difference of about $187.5 million a year.
Both sides are to blame. The NFL should have trusted the players enough to open its books wide enough to satisfy the union. The union should have trusted the owners enough to continue collective bargaining rather than run for the comfy confines of Judge Doty's courtroom.
Maybe then Rhett Bomar wouldn't be looking for guys to throw to on days Amendola isn't available.
"My dad [Jerry] has been a high school coach in Texas [for 29 years]," Bomar said. "He just took a new job at Orange Grove High School down by Corpus Christi. I threw to his players a few times. They drop them at first and then get the hang of it. But you throw some heaters and you find out they aren't quite ready for the NFL."
Bomar joked that in throwing to high school kids, he's following in Brett Favre's offseason footsteps. Unlike Favre, Bomar would rather throw to teammates.
"I just want all this stuff to end," Bomar said.
We all do, Rhett. We all do.
Mark Craig • email@example.com