TORONTO - For a couple of hours there, it really looked like the NFL lockout was over.
The owners had ratified what everyone thought was the negotiated collective bargaining agreement both sides had at least decided they could live with.
Thatís what we thought. Thatís what everyone thought.
But about a half hour after a 31-0 vote by the owners (the Oakland Raiders abstained, as they always do) the reality of just how presumptuous and pompous the owners can be started to be revealed.
Turns out complete portions of the agreement they signed off on had never been agreed to by the players.
Did they really think they could just slip something in and not have the playerís notice?
Things such as a supplemental sharing proposal that was never negotiated? Such as workers compensation and even the end of deal terms.
None of that had been agreed to.
Or maybe this was the owners' ploy all along. Maybe they thought by ratifying an agreement that they clearly altered to their own benefit, they would force the players to take a long hard gulp and then sign off for fear of looking like the bad guys in this.
Could they really be that foolish?
Thirty-two (okay, 31 minus Al Davis) of the most successful businessman in the United States actually believed this would work?
The first indication that something might be amiss came via twitter from ESPNís Adam Schefter who wrote: ďIn an e-mail to player reps, NFL demanding that NFLPA re-form as a union and provide evidence by Tuesday, July 26.Ē
That was about a half hour before the players were to conduct their conference call.
Once the call began, it quickly became apparent this was not going to be the end of the lockout.
Washington Redskins defensive end Vonnie Holliday, a 13-year NFL veteran, summed it up nicely via twitter for the rest of his NFL playing brethren: ďLook guys I have not reason to lie! The truth of the matter is we got tricked, duped, led astray, hoodwinked, bamboozled? Sorry you did too!Ē
What a complete and utter waste of a day for all concerned.
Hopefully the whole 132 days havenít been a waste.
But a move like this is only going to make further negotiations that much tougher.
Where is the trust level now?
Itís been an adversarial relationship from the very beginning (as all of these things are), but itís now evolved into the kind of relationship where one side canít bring themselves to believe anything the other side says. Perhaps they were there already, but if they werenít, they certainly appear to be now.
Not surprisingly the players' conference call, the one everyone hoped would lead to a vote that would end this lockout, came and went without a vote.
And now there are more questions than ever.
Based on what transpired Thursday night, the Hall of Fame game, the one game that was going to be a casualty of this labour standoff even had the two sides agreed last night, will now have company.
How much of the $800-million US revenue generating pre-season will be lost is anyoneís guess, but it now appears there is going to be a financial cost for this lockout and at least some pre-season games.
The ownerís half-assed attempt to force the players into an agreement they didnít negotiate did not work.
Weíre not back to square one. At least we donít think so, but it certainly feels like it.