Firstly lets get one thing out of the way: if there is a lockout it is purely the owners fault. A lockout by definition is:
a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.
That's right. If a lockout occurs it is the owners who pull the trigger on it.
But maybe even more important is that we should never be in this situation in the first place. The owners agreed with the NFLPA to extend the CBA in 2006 by a decisive 30-2 vote for another 6 years. But they reneged on their promise just two years later and opted out of the contract they had with the players union. They did this because they know whatever will happen, the outcome of the negotiations will be more favorable for the owners. The issue now is how much more favorable of a deal the owners will get.
Now the owners are looking to extract another pound of flesh from the players. Literally:
The average NFL player plays just 3.52 seasons and loses two to three years off his life expectancy for every season played.
The average life expectancy of a U.S male is 75.6. That means players in the NFL live to around 65. And with the bigger hits nowadays (yes you old fogies look at the average player weights in the ole days and now) that could be even less when this group of players age. Adding two more regular season games brings that number down even further, and it seems the owners could care less. Particularly Jerry Jones.
Now I'm a defender of Jerry most of the time, but unfortunately he is the leader of the let them eat cake crowd. He recently said a 22 game season is "doable" - with no concern for the effects that would have on the players' health. Let's remember its players like Kevin Everrett who are risking their health by playing extra games. Not owners like Jerry Jones who make such flippant remarks.
Furthermore, Jerry also said that a lockout wouldn't be devastating. Even though, it would be devastating for the countless middle and lower class support staff and their families. Not to mention NFL players and their families would lose health benefits (and salary of course) in the meantime.
Let's keep in mind this is not exactly a dispute between millionaires and billionaires. The average NFL player plays 3.5 years on an average salary of $770,000 (excluding management/agent expenses and taxes). While certainly a hefty per year sum, their careers are incredibly short because of the extreme punishment their bodies take, and adding more games does not necessarily increase the salary. Also, keep in mind you have to play for at least 3 years to receive 5 years of post career health benefits, and tacking on more games could reduce that average career from 3.5 years to below that 3 year threshold.
I hear a lot of fans distributing the blame equally amongst owners and players, and even some fans putting the onus on the players. But remember we are in this situation because the owners decided to put us in this situation by opting out of their contract with the players, and they would be the one to pull the trigger on the lockout. Whatever will happen the players will get a worse deal than the 2006 CBA. The players association right now is trying to fight for the less worse deal that would give the players some measure of protection, and the owners are just trying to increase their profits. That is the bottom line.
I know there are some fans that say they should come to any kind of a deal no matter what so we can enjoy football again. But there are more important things than watching football, believe it or not. Like the well-being of players and their families...