The NFL Network's Albert Breer wrote an article last week, focusing on the ever-looming 2011 pre-season, and just how much money was on the line should the players and owners not have a deal done before then.
League sources calculated that should the lockout remain in effect past August 1, it will cost the NFL a staggering $350 million dollars in revenue. And should the entire 2011 pre-season get cancelled, the league could be forfeiting as much as $1 billion.
And just this week, Breer reported that the NFL has asked its owners to "keep their schedules open" when the league holds meetings in Chicago, starting on June 21. The NFL wants owners to be available in case talks spill over the course of multiple days.
The league and players have been engaged in what have been described as "serious negations" for the last few weeks. And one league source estimated that it could take four to six weeks to go from serious negations to the actual contract drafting process.
The report has fueled speculation that the two sides may be arriving towards an agreement. It has fueled my own speculation that perhaps the league believes it may have some form of draft contract in-hand by June 21.
Don't get over-excited about all this hype, however. Even when a draft contract does hit their hands, things will most likely take some time to iron out before arriving at the signature table. Although, the players have said all along that they're not looking to drastically change the deal's inner workings.
It's still a real possibility - verging on probability - that at least a portion of training camp is missed. And while no one likes to loose money, if the appeals court rules in favor of the owners the possibility of games being lost is all the more likely.
The whispers regarding a deal getting done sooner rather than later may be an indication that the players, NOT THE OWNERS, are backing down from their previous stance. They may actually be willing to concede - at least enough to satisfy the league.
It's not really so difficult to see where that $1 billion pre-season figure comes from. Consider that Soldier Field has approximately 52,000+ non-club seats at an average ticket price of $95. That's $4,940,000 in revenue for each home game. And remember, that doesn't include the pricey club seating, parking or concessions revenue, or the fact that Soldier is now the smallest stadium in the league, according to a total seating capacity of 61,500.
Consider all the other factors, and one report suggests teams could lose between $12 and $40 million PER GAME. Four weeks of pre-season produces 64 total games. If we go with an average of $26 million, times 64, that's well over $1 billion dollars. The NFL stands to lose approximately $400 million per week in revenue, for each week missed.
That equates to literally THOUSANDS of jobs. Perhaps these sobering figures are forcing these two sides to begin coming to their senses? Well, let's hope so.