Saturday morning, Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal tweeted the following:
“Told optimism is so high in NFL, players talks over labor deal that expectation is for a framework agreement in about two weeks.”
And regardless of the fact that Kaplan’s source is unknown, or that his 127-character statement lacks specificity, evidence, and coherent English grammar, the blogosphere has lit up in the past 24 hours with raving, optimistic reports that the lockout is almost over, that “sources indicate players and owners will agree to a new CBA in two weeks.”
As much as I hate to be the bummer here, I think someone has to be the voice of reason. As good a reporter as Kaplan is (he’s regularly been one of my go-to outlets for lockout news and rumors) there’s no accounting for his sources, especially when we don’t know who they are. In early March, for example, when players and owners were first approaching the deadline for a new CBA, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told Kaplan he was “optimistic a deal would get done,” which Kaplan later tweeted. Even though Kaplan was correct – he had been told that owners believed the lockout would be avoided – he source was not correct, and thus the information he reported was ultimately false.
All I’m saying is take whatever you hear about the lockout – now and in the future – with a grain of salt and a heaping handful of skepticism. There are literally dozens of people involved with all the various court cases, negotiations, and legal proceedings, and a “source” could be anyone from a second-year player to an optimistic owner (like Richardson) to a temporary court clerk who is flat-out guessing as to what’s going on behind closed doors. God knows who this reporter’s source was.
More importantly, however, is that fact that Kaplan’s tweet didn’t say anything about the NFL opening for business. All he said was that a “framework” is “expected” in “about two weeks”. Sure, a “framework” could be agreed upon in two weeks time, just as negotiations could completely break down again in two weeks time, but after that it could take anywhere from a week to a month for each side’s massive legal teams to fill in that framework with specifics, hard numbers, and, finally, signatures. We’re still a ways off, is my point, and anyone circling June 25th on their calendar right now is setting themselves up for a letdown. Like most of the reports these past few weeks, Kaplan’s tweet is reassuring for those of us who thought there might not be a season at all in 2011. The progress is good, but there simply isn’t enough information right now for anyone – from players and owners to sports reporters and fans – to put a hard date on when the dust will finally settle.