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Yo, NFL, we're tired of 'it's close;' just get deal done

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist

The lawyers for the owners and players are meeting early this week in an attempt to put the new collective bargaining agreement language on paper.

Good. Move your butts. Time's a wasting.

Later this week, Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith will join the talks.

Awesome. Get to steppin'. No time to dawdle.

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith have turned their improved relationship into progress but not a deal. (AP)  
Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith have turned their improved relationship into progress but not a deal. (AP)  
All indications continue to point to an end to our long, national lockout nightmare in the coming days. Multiple sources remain optimistic a deal will get done just in time for Brett Favre to un-retire.

But we've heard that before. Many times before and here we are again at another critical juncture for the season, only this time the two sides need to do one simple thing: Shut the (expletive) up and get a deal done.

Sorry about the parenthetically salty language, but that sentence is the sentiment of millions of football fans. As the league closes in on a deal, fans have reached their Howard Beale moment: They're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. Only they're saying, Shut the (expletive) up and get a deal done.

And they're right. Just do it already. Stop the excuse making. Stop the posturing. Cease and desist the petty arguing. Truly think of your fans and earn your various paychecks. Get it done. Get. It. Done.

Everyone is angry, including former players. They want a resolution and better plan for their situation as well. The anger of some ex-players is embodied by a conversation former player George Visger, who has been critical of both the NFLPA and the owners, says he had with Smith not long ago:

"George, D. here."

"D. who?"

"D. Smith."

"What the [expletive] do you want?"

"I’m on my way back to New York to meet with the owners. Wanted to call you to personally tell you I am fighting for benefits for players such as yourself."

"Let me ask you something, D. Did you ever play ball?"

"A little in high school."

"Yeah, I figured as much. And you're an attorney, right?"


"Well, back in the day there was a saying: Talk is cheap. You take your sorry attorney ass back to New York and get something done. THEN call me. Otherwise, don't waste my time. I'm a very busy man."

Yes, it's like that. Visger was partly joking but not really. He and Smith would talk again and Visger again expressed his frustrations.

Everyone is tired of this.

This is raw emotion time. Most fans, owners and players (current and former) are tired of the 100-plus days of this nonsense. A combination of anger and apathy is settling in like concrete among the fan base. If the NFL isn't careful it will take a pick ax to break it. We're already seeing some of this, as ticket sales are hurting for the Hall of Fame game -- one of the more cherished weekends of the NFL year.

The NFL is symbolic, in some ways, of the state of our society. Indeed, our leaders, across all walks of life, can't reach simple deals many of us could finalize in a week. The President and Congress constantly squabble. Unions are under attack. The NBA is locked out and it's possible Major League Baseball could have another labor dispute in the near future. The simple acts of talking, bargaining and compromise seem like lost arts. The NFL can go a long way to showing it truly cares about fans by settling this quickly while demonstrating to other segments of society there is hope for people who know how to make a deal.

The two leaders, Smith and Goodell, finally are starting to understand the anger of the fans. You no longer see them sniping at one another in the media. The opposite has happened. They've actually become close.

There's also a group of moderates among the owners and players who sincerely want a deal done.

The problem all along has been the extremists. Initially, extremist owners slowed the talks, but lately the extremist NFLPA lawyers have hurt negotiations. We are reaching a point where there's finally a balance in the force. At least, we hope.

We know a deal is within reach, but many fans are tired of hearing that. They don't want to hear that it's close.

This is what the fans want from owners and players: Shut the (expletive) up and get a deal done.

Pretty simple. Now do it.


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