NFL owners: 'Who needs $4 billion?' and other negotiating tales

The Washington Post's LaVar Arrington, Dan Steinberg, Barry Svrluga and Jonathan Forsythe discuss Clinton Portis's legacy, the upcoming deadline on NFL labor negotiations, college basketball and the Capitals' newest acquisitions.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 9:14 PM

The most ridiculous statement I've read this week came from Charlie Sheen. (In fact, most of the ridiculous statements made in America so far this week have come from Charlie Sheen.)

Sheen's statement was this: "Yeah, I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off, and your children will weep over your exploded body. Too much?"

Moammar Gaddafi called; he wants to know how to score some of that Adonis DNA.

The second-most ridiculous statement I've read this week came from Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, in the wake of Judge David S. Doty's ruling that the NFL was not, after all, entitled to collect as much as $4 billion from its television partners during a potential lockout.

Aiello's job is to sound the NFL's trumpet, but get a load of this: "Today's ruling will have no effect on our efforts to negotiate a new, balanced labor agreement."

Both Sheen and Aiello's statements are similar in that they are, in fact, completely nuts. The difference: Sheen is seriously disturbed; the NFL is just messing with us.

If, say, two days ago you were owed $4 billion dollars and now you're not, you're either making Charlie Sheen money - or you're going to bounce a few checks down the road. There is no question the NFL is flush, but owners were counting on that TV money to get them through the lockout in the style to which they've become accustomed - and if any was left, maybe they would keep paying assistant coaches and beer vendors.

The decision by Doty, who has been the overlord of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement since 1993, overturned a February ruling by special master Stephen Burbank. Doty will hold a hearing to determine if damages are warranted; the NFL, not surprisingly, will appeal.

But neither of those things will happen before 11:59 p.m. Thursday, when the CBA is set to expire. The two sides will continue to meet with federal mediators - distracting them from the more pressing matter of Sheen vs. CBS et al. But at least CBS can still make money off "Two and a Half Men" reruns - 11.6 million of you should be ashamed of yourselves for making Monday night's the most watched show of the evening. I don't know about you, but I'm not sitting through the 2010 Redskins season for a second time.

So the Day after Doty, with the deadline approaching, are we any closer to a resolution? Not really, no. The loss of what amounted to a lockout slush fund will hurt the owners, but it's more of a "Bill Gates misplacing his wallet" pain than a crippling blow.

Sadly, this thing could drag on longer than Charlie Sheen's rants. It could be a long summer.

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