The owners' Thursday night power play to the players looked a lot like a shotgun wedding; going before the media and essentially claiming victory before the players had seen the full CBA document had that feel. And in the spirit of premature celebration, the Cincinnati Bengals (who else?) jumped the gun and sent out the following email to its season ticket holders:
You Ready for Some Football?
We are excited to let you know that the NFL has reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows the entire NFL season to be played this year.
The NFL is the most popular sport in America. Our games are intense, unifying and meaningful to fans in the stadium and to those watching at home. We are thrilled to have a labor deal in place that will provide fans with a decade of certainty and that will allow us to focus all our energies where they ought to be — on the playing field. The upcoming 2011 season will surely be exciting, and football work will begin shortly. Our coaches will begin meeting with players, and the Club will welcome back talented veterans along with exciting rookies from the April NFL Draft, like top picks A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Whether all of that will take place in Cincinnati or Georgetown, Kentucky, will be decided shortly once we receive the NFL's operating schedule.
Two years ago, our football team swept the AFC North—one of the toughest divisions in football—and many key components of that team remain, including defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and a defense that ranked in the top half of the NFL for three straight seasons. The area of the team that will change the most will be the offense with a new direction under offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and new faces at quarterback and wide receiver. The mix of veterans and rookies should return our offense to the top level we need, and we are excited by the challenge.
This year—like others before it—we will focus our energies on returning to the Super Bowl again. That's what we want and that's what our fans want, and our franchise has been blessed with great support from fans for decades. Last season we reached a record-setting 57th straight sellout—a string we hope to restart soon—and our games have been the most-watched television program in the local market for the last applicable 96 ratings weeks. This is great football country, and incredibly: 95% of the Cincinnati population watched an NFL game during the 2009 season (third highest ranking among NFL markets).
We are very grateful to our fans, we thank you for your patience during the labor stoppage, and now we look forward to a great season together. Who Dey!
That's great and all, but the players were fairly apoplectic when they discovered that the owners were putting the burden on them when they hadn't even seen the full final document. It's our belief that this will get solved sooner than later, though this little gesture doesn't help.
However, the fact that the Bengals' organization (long known as one of the league's most parsimonious and least competent, though we certainly don't include Marvin Lewis in that equation) is out there with this one will just provide a bit of comic relief in what has been a very arduous and unnecessarily dramatic process.
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- Cincinnati Bengals