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NFL Lockout: It's Just Business, But When Does It Get Personal?

The NFL players and owners that have taken time to speak with the media during this lockout have always said something similar in that it isn't personal, it's just business. But for how long does it stay that way?

For most football fans this lockout right now is nothing more than a side-note for a water cooler discussion. It's something to talk about with buddies at work and most of these conversations just end with the simple idea that there better not be any games that get missed. Let's face it, besides free agency there hasn't been a whole lot that has given the owners and players a big enough reason to throw them off their game, or change their stance thus far.

We are in a grown-up game of chicken right now with two high-speed trains headed right for one another. You have the players in one train and the owners in the other. These trains are fueled by the billions of dollars of those caught right in the middle of the tracks, the fans. Everyone wants there to be a solution and we're waiting each and every day for positive news in regards to this lockout moving forward.

The problem is that it won't happen until one side feels so much pressure that they have to fold. But what creates this pressure? Simple. Money. When the players start missing those checks in July there may start to be a few chinks in that underarmour, and when the owners don't see that revenue flying in from season tickets sales and advertising they could start to feel some pressure to get a deal done. The bottom line is that we are still in the mid-game of this whole process and they are still posturing right now.

Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt recently said that it was just a business dispute right now with the players.

"We're in a business dispute right now with the players. That's all it is. It's nothing personal. When it's over, I know we'll go back to the great relationship that we had before it started."

He says that it isn't personal right now with the players. He may be right as far as that goes for the time being, but it will get to a point that these decisions start really affecting the personal lives of the people involved. It's already affecting the staffs of these NFL teams. Several NFL teams have announced pay cuts for their employees while these teams struggle to generate revenue. This situation would sure seem personal to them right now.

Besides the Chiefs and their owner Clark Hunt, it's interesting to look at the dynamic of other franchises across the NFL and one in particular that is the envy of the entire league, and has been for a very long time. The same team that has won more Super Bowls than any other team since 1969 is also the same team that has hired the fewest coaches since 1969. The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dan Rooney and family, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been the benchmark of sports ownership for the last 40 years. You hear it from every player and coach that goes through that organization. But for a team and organization that has long defined itself by the relationships and family-like atmosphere that is has created for everyone inside of this franchise, have these bonds loosened because of the turmoil surrounding the league and this lockout? The common media rhetoric is that this "is just business". But at what point does the family-like atmosphere start to wear off and questions arise that most organizations that don't have this openness won't have to deal with, how do these questions get answered?

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten even got the media memo on how to go about answering questions about the lockout. (via wfaa in Dallas/Ft Worth)

"I understand its business, it's nothing personal against us....."

At some point these players may not feel as if the lockout is a personal thing aimed at them directly, but the consequences of a prolonged lockout will have every NFL player personally feeling this pinch. It might not be the superstars that we see on TV everyday talking about the lockout that feel this pinch, because a good number of them are quarterbacks, who do have the kind of money to deal with a prolonged lockout. But the majority of NFL players are making the league minimum, or close to it and they will start to feel the effect of this lockout and that would create the kind of pressure that leads to a deal getting done.

The coaches association has already filed a brief that gives their support to the players in this matter. It wasn't a surprise at all that the coaches sided with the players because they obviously can't do their jobs and make a living if the players aren't out there playing and making their money as well. But it does bring another dynamic to this argument and the day-to-day dealings between the coaches, general managers and owners. Is it something that is openly discussed outside of the court rooms?

A lot of NFL fans have taken this lockout personally from day one and they have every right to state their objections to the lockout, and those who are involved. But when trying to see this deal from both sides it just doesn't feel like either of them really has to make a move right now. The June 3rd hearing is scheduled to determine the legality of the current lockout and will go a long way in creating leverage for one side. Hopefully they can find a quick and fair resolution so football can get back to normal.