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Neverending NFL lockout: Don't hate the players, hate the game

Frustration is understandable as the NFL lockout stretches into the weekend. On Thursday, there was premature speculation that the lockout had ended. The owners agreed on their proposal and sent it over to the players for approval. But ESPN is reporting that the NFL Players Association will not vote on the proposal until Monday, shredding the post-lockout schedule the owners released Thursday.

My take on all this in the form of a late 1990s catch phrase: Don’t hate the players, hate the game.

I’m not exactly plugged into the labor negotiations. I’m too busy writing about football uniforms and Joe Flacco’s wedding registries. But I can scour the Internet enough to gain some knowledge on the lockout.

The NFL’s announcement that an agreement had been reached was misleading. An agreement had been reached on the owner’s side of the table, but players feel that the owners tried to pull a fast one by inserting things into the proposal that hadn’t been negotiated, then telling the football-loving masses that it was up to the players to end the lockout by signing a deal. Saints fullback Heath Evans called it a “power play.”

The breach of trust notwithstanding, the players are doing the right thing by taking their time reviewing the proposal. A decade of labor peace is at stake, and there is no sense in rushing to end the lockout. The owners need the preseason more than the players do. They’re losing out in millions of dollars (just ask the season-ticket holders who are stuck paying regular-season prices to watch preaseason games).

"Our leadership isn't going to sign anything just because it's time to go to training camp," Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson told Jamison Hensley of The Baltimore Sun on Thursday.

And they shouldn’t sign anything until they have reviewed the new agreement and addressed the things the owners tried to slip by them. This is a two-way deal. And when negotiating labor peace for a decade, what’s a few more days of waiting to make sure things truly are peaceful for the duration of the deal? This is how these labor negotiations normally work, so don't fault the players for playing the game.

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