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Will the union break in March, not September?

Antonio Cromartie

New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie laughs as he sits at his locker after practice Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, in Florham Park, N.J. The Jets play the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)


Conventional wisdom in NFL circles is and has been that, once players miss a paycheck of two in September, they’ll collapse.

But the money doesn’t ordinarily begin to flow in September. For those players whose contracts have expired, signing bonuses and roster bonuses are paid in early March, as part of the free-agency frenzy that sees millions of dollars change hands in a short period of time. And while a majority of the league’s players are under contract for 2011, and thus won’t lose any money other than individually-negotiated workout bonuses before September, those players whose shot at getting paid large chunks of cash will be delayed by a lockout will be very, very vocal.

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie was the first. Chances are that others will follow suit once March 4 comes and goes without the doors to the free-agent market swinging open for business.

In this regard, Jason Whitlock of has nailed the situation in his latest column, explaining that a mutiny against union leadership could be coming sooner rather than later.

“This is a totally unfair fight,” Whitlock said. “It’s become cliche to say this is an argument between millionaires and billionaires. No. This is an argument between spoiled rich kids and their parents. Once the parents cut off the money, the mouthy rich kids turn bitch quick.”

As to the notion that NFLPA executive director De Smith recently declared, “We are at war!”, Whitlock offered up this comparison: “Remember the Republican Guard surrendering before we ever fired a shot during Desert Storm? We’re about to see a reenactment.”

Whitlock also recommends following any and all NFL players on Twitter, because that’s where many of them will be venting their frustrations.

So as the NFL tries to keep 32 folks in line and on message, the union will be desperately trying to corral 1,700 feral cats.