Okay, so it isn't really news. The likelihood of the off-season and even the season being screwed up by the current labor dispute hasn't been a secret, but it's been something I've avoided after the huge bummer that was the Falcons' playoff loss. But as the March deadline looms and talks seem to be going nowhere, it's probably time to start talking about it.
How likely is a lockout, or damage to the institution of free agency? It kind of depends on how quickly the owners can get their heads out of their butts, for lack of a better way to put it, because they have all the leverage and seem more than a little disinterested in playing football next year. They're joined by the networks, who will get their money regardless of what happens, which really only leaves the players wanting teams to play. Oh, and the fans.
A lot can happen between now and early March, and a lot can happen after that to limit the damage. It's also fair to assume that the off-season will be affected in some way by this, given the lack of progress.
That's not a good thing.