Warren Moon’s Sports Dream Bowl benefit at Texas Station

Jun 28, 2011 3:09 AM

Warren Moon’s 11th annual Sports Dream Bowl Benefit at Texas Station last Saturday went about the way the NFL lockout is. Some stopped and talked, others didn’t.

There was consensus agreement from those interviewed that there would be an NFL season, but when and for how long was very much up in the air.

It also became clear the lingering gap between owners and players centers on how to divide the money.

Now there’s a surprise.

"They are going to get this settled," said Moon, an NFL Hall of Famer and legendary quarterback in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos. "There’s too much money and too much prosperity for them not to get a deal done."

Tony Gonzalez, a future Hall of Fame tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, did not share Moon’s optimism.

"I don’t think we’re that close at all to getting back on the field," Gonzalez said. "The stories saying ‘moving back in right direction and being close,’ that’s all hype. I really do think the sticking point is the revenue."

If Moon and Gonzalez are correct, then everything we see and hear about an 18-game schedule, rookie salary cap and retirement benefits is just circumstantial. And that would make sense. Negotiations almost always come down to which side will budge in terms of sharing the wealth.

Naturally, the fans are ignored and left to suffer the consequences.

Cam Newton, Heisman Trophy winner and selected No. 1 overall by Carolina in the NFL draft, really wasn’t worried a bit about the lockout.

"I am curious about it," said Newton, who left defending national champion Auburn early for the big NFL contract. "It (the lockout) does not put me behind by no means. At the end of the day it’s (about) the person who has to sacrifice ability and learn whatever material there is to learn."

Russell Westbrook, MVP of the NBA All-Star Game last season and half of the two-headed monster in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant, also has lockout talk to deal with.

"I’m looking forward to the summer," said the former UCLA standout. "I’m trying to work out and get ready for next year. I take it day by day. I think we (the Thunder) are okay with what we have, but it would be better for us if we would be ready to play (the season) from the get go."

While superstars like Ray Lewis and Jerry Rice skipped the media altogether and Michael Irvin had transportation issues getting to Texas Station, Moon and Gonzalez were each congenial and informative about their feelings on an issue that would have a devastating impact on Nevada sports wagering.

"There’s a medium there," said Moon, who admitted he has future aspirations of landing a front office NFL job. "There’s too much money and too much prosperity for them not to get a deal done. It’s a matter of working out the fine points. They’re smart enough to know we want to get the football season started."

Moon said he hears the number is around 48 percent for what the players will get and getting closer to 50-50.

"Once the number is settled, the rest of the deal will take place as far as rookies, wage pool and all those other different things," said Moon, who starred for the Minnesota Vikings and the former Houston Oilers in his NFL career.

As for careers, Gonzalez understands the end to his in pro football is close and took a philosophical approach to the lockout.

"I am at a position where I’m older and don’t have to worry about it," said Gonzalez, a perennial All-Pro for most of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. "I feel real bad for the free agents and rookies. You go through these kind of labor disputes when you are in any type of big business. It’s a nine billion dollar business annually and it’s growing."

Gonzalez did say he was confident an agreement would be reached.

"No way football will not happen this year," he said. With no season it would really be hard for me to come back next year. I would lean toward retirement for sure."

As for the upcoming season, Moon looked for the Super Bowl champs of the past two years (Green Bay and New Orleans) to be the teams to beat.

"Along with some others we don’t know about right now," Moon said. "Today, I’m just so proud to have so many pro athletes come out to support my charity (which benefits the Urban Youth Scholarship Fund for inner city kids)."

On that, there was total agreement.