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Trace Armstrong sees lockout looming

2/16/2011 - NFL Chicago Bears

Count former NFLPA president Trace Armstrong among those who believe the current CBA will expire before a new deal gets done between the NFL players and owners.

"My personal belief is that there will be a lockout, and we will certainly miss a portion of the offseason," Armstrong told ESPN 1000 on Wednesday. "So, if you're a new coach, if you're Mike Munchak or Jason Garrett or Jim Harbaugh, there is a strong possibility you may not even get to see your players until August. How much is that going to hurt you? It's going to hurt a lot from a competitive standpoint. So I think the season, in some sense, will be impacted no matter what."

A 1989 first round draft choice (12th-overall), Armstrong spent five years with the Chicago Bears before making stops in Miami and Oakland. He retired after the 2003 season with 106.5 sacks and one career Pro Bowl selection. The standout defensive end served as the president of the NFLPA for eight seasons (1996-2003), and was strongly considered for the NFLPA executive direction position that eventually went to DeMaurice Smith following the passing of Gene Upshaw in August 2008.

"I think there will be all kinds of twists and turns," Armstrong said. "When [I] came in the league in '89, we came in the league without a CBA. Is it possible that there's football without a CBA? Sure it's possible. This thing will take all kinds of twists and turns between now and when they'll get a deal done. Back in '89 we thought we had an idea of how we would get to 1993 and the Reggie White settlement and free agency and all those things, but what ended up happening in the end only looked a little bit like what our plan was in 1989, so I don't think anybody can answer that. I think both sides will have to be flexible, both sides are going to have to be creative and I think we'll end up with some solutions, quite honestly that have not been part of deals in prior years.

"My hope is that we don't miss games. At the end of the day, that's what we all want."

Armstrong, now an agent, refused to speculate about what he would have done differently if awarded the executive director's job, instead of Smith.

"No, I can't get into that," Armstrong said. "There are people involved in those discussions and you just got to believe they are doing what they think is best to represent their constituents. So , I don't want to get into Monday morning quarterback. It's a great game, the players are the game and I hope a system gets put in place that promotes parity and that protects and rewards players who are out there every Sunday sacrificing to play the game. The game is rougher, more possibility for injury than ever before in the game and I think players are entitled to reap the benefits because gosh knows they pay the price."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.