This is news football fans definitely do not want to hear, even if their might be a little posturing involved.
The question to DeMaurice Smith was simple, coming from Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco, asking how serious he viewed the possibility of football not being played in 2011.
Smith did not hesitate.
"On a scale of 1 to 10," Smith said Thursday, "it's a 14."
With that, the executive director of the NFL Players Association painted perhaps the bleakest picture yet regarding prospects of labor strife in the league, which could be looking at a 2010 season with no salary cap and, if the collective bargaining agreement expires as scheduled in March 2011, a lockout that year.
"I keep coming back to an economic model in America that is unparalleled," said Smith, who often repeated phrases for emphasis. "And that makes it incredibly difficult to then come to players and say, on average, each of you needs to take a $340,000 pay cut to save the National Football League. Tough sell. Tough sell."
Smith said the NFL would receive $5 billion from its network television deals even if no games are played in 2011. He regarded that as proof owners are preparing for a lockout.
By the way, that is pretty good journalism from Ochocinco.