Most of us, or at least those of us who've been around long enough to remember when professional athletes weren't making megamilliondollar-a-year contracts, will remember this old saying from Aesop's Fables:
Don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
National Football League owners and players have seemingly figured out the wisdom of that phrase, which Wikipedia tells us "has become idiomatic of an unprofitable action motivated by greed."
Ah, yes, greed. It might be the worst of the "seven deadly sins," a selfish desire to possess wealth, property, power or something else of value with the intention of keeping it all for one's self.
That, in a nutshell, is what the soon-to-end lockout was all about — owners and players each wanting a bigger share of the gazillion-dollar pie that is the NFL.
But thankfully, with both sides having come to their senses, they're on the brink of reaching a new labor agreement. It could be ratified as early as this week, which means training camps might soon be under way and not even the most meaningless preseason game would be lost.
It also means that fantasy football geeks like myself can start gearing up for another season of playing NFL general manager — thus facing those difficult, gut-wrenching decisions like when to draft former BYU quarterback John Beck, who's the Washington Redskins' projected starter, and whether to take a chance on a guy like Plaxico Burress, this year's returning convicted felon du jour.
And those of us who play in pick 'em leagues will again have an opportunity to brag or embarrass ourselves with our ability/inability to figure out who's gonna beat who on a given week.
The NFL has come up with a new salary cap structure, a rookie wage scale and limits on contract lengths. Hopefully, they'll also find a way to improve the compensation plan for former NFL players, who feel they've been short-changed and deserve a better pension and health care benefits.
And, of course, there's still that little matter of antitrust litigation against the league which was filed by a powerhouse group of 10 players, spearheaded by star quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
But once they get that matter resolved, it looks like the 2011 NFL campaign will soon be a go, full speed ahead.
No, the NFL isn't going to kill that golden egg-laying goose. Instead, they're smart enough to keep it around for the foreseeable future, allowing the most popular sport in the country to continue its money-making business as usual.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the National Basketball Association, whose own lockout means that two of our nation's "Big Three" professional sports have been embroiled in ugly labor disputes since July 1.
But while the NFL's lockout appears over after a little more than four months' time, the NBA's version may, unfortunately, last much longer than that.
Several NBA players, including former Jazz point guard Deron Williams, have started lining up deals to play overseas, just in case the lockout lasts as long as many folks figure it will.
More than 100 NBA employees were laid off last week, although league officials insisted the job losses were not directly related to the lockout.
However, the 114 jobs which were cut — most of them in positions such as marketing, community relations, player programs, broadcasting, etc. — came about because many NBA teams are reportedly losing millions of dollars, which is why this whole lockout business came about in the first place.
"The league's expenses far outpace our revenues," NBA spokesman Mike Bass was quoted in a New York Times story.
Thus, the clock's ticking for NBA owners and players to work out their own differences. Unlike the NFL, the NBA factions are reportedly far, far apart in their negotiations.
And while the NFL was smart enough to keep that golden goose alive, it appears the NBA may be on the verge of cooking theirs.