There’s a genuine connection between the death of Osama bin Laden and the NFL labor dispute. It is not a trivial connection.

What did you think about on Sept. 11, 2001? I remember checking in on one of my best friends who lived a short distance from the World Trade Center towers. We often worked on the same breaking news assignments. Whenever I think about Sept. 11, I reflect back on those urgent calls to family and friends to make sure everyone was ok.

Recent news involving the death of Osama bin Laden does not necessarily bring a happy ending to America’s war on terrorism. For some it might offer a sense of closure. For others it opens old wounds. And for many it offers an opportunity to reflect on family and friends and what matters most.

The tragedy of Sept. 11 provided a serious reality check to Americans. It shed light on our vulnerabilities as a nation. It has also forced many to rethink things previously taken for granted.

So what’s the NFL connection?

When it comes to litigation, the reality is there’s often no happy ending. It’s a long and often expensive process that exposes vulnerabilities and forces both sides to evaluate their positions. Like a chess game, it requires all parties involved to make moves to out-maneuver the other.

Rarely do citizens have the benefit of seeing the whole litigation process. Even televised cases fail to provide the transparency that the public has come to expect in an era of accountability and 24/7 news cycles. For sports fans, it’s a frustrating process because they have yet to hear what matters most.

Sure, fans might hear tidbits about the NFL labor dispute in the media when one side puts the other in check with a favorable ruling by the court. But for the most part, fans have yet to hear what they want to hear, which is when the season will finally start.

The failure to deliver ‘what matters most’ is often the basis for losing in the court of public opinion.

In chess, when a player’s king is under attack and threatened with capture, the king is ‘in check.’ When in check, the player must take action to avoid letting the king get captured. The strategy to avoid capture is to counter or block the attack.

The same goes for litigation — the filing party goes on attack and the opposing party is put ‘in check.’ The opposing party must then take action to avoid losing by default and block the attack.

To secure a victory in the NFL labor dispute, the winning player doesn’t necessarily have to capture its opponent (king).They need only show that defeat is inevitable — checkmate.

To win in the court of public opinion, victory for the NFL or NFL Players Association will come down to the party that is best able to show the court and fans what matters most.

Phillies fans did not hesitate to show their passion and patriotism following news involving Osama bin Laden. America’s football fans are chomping at the bit to show their pride and spirit of unity as well.

Derede is a crisis communication expert and a Vice President with Levick Strategic Communications. Click here to meet all of our contributors.