This news comes from Mike Florio of ProFootball Talk:
At a time when signs of real optimism finally are beginning to emerge regarding a labor deal that would allow the season to start on time, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the NFL is planning for a season that would be as short as eight games.
An eight-game season would begin in late November, with a whopping five weeks allowed for free agency, training camps, and maybe a single preseason game. This would require a deal to be reached in October.
One thing immediately strikes me about this news: the NFL would be stupid if it didn’t have these sort of plans in place. While some people may view this as depressing news, signaling that the NFL isn’t ready to cave in and is expecting the negotiations to go on late into the year, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. While I’m sure this news acts as a negotiating tactic for the NFL as well, the NFL executives wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t prepare for every possible eventuality. They have to prepare for a worth-case scenario, even if they don’t want it to happen.
In many ways, NFL fans should be encouraged by this news: it means that the NFL is going to do all they can to sneak in a 2011 season, even if that means starting in November. That’s certainly a much better alternative than having no football season at all, and at least we now know when the “point of no return” is. The NFL and NFLPA now have a deadline: if they can’t reach a deal by mid-October, then there will be no 2011 season.
Neither side wants that to happen, though, so I fully expect the NFL and NFLPA to reach some sort of agreement by the fall. But the question is, when?