Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer has something to say to all the football fans trying to figure out which side to take in the NFL's ongoing labor disputes between the NFL Players Association and team owners: He is a football fan too, and he, like many of the league's other players, wants to play football in 2011.
"To decertify as a union, that was our nuclear, last resort," said Hillenmeyer. "We didn't do it because we wanted to be grandiose. It wasn't a show of defiance. It was all we felt that we were left with."
But the labor disputes have lasted more than 110 days, and should the two sides of the NFL's lockout be unable to resolve their differences by July 15, pre-season games and their profits could be completely lost in 2011.
The failure to reach a settlement in time for pre-season could have resounding financial impacts on NFL cities and their venues, and it could negatively test the faith of NFL fans.
Hunter Hillenmeyer remains hopeful nonetheless.
"I continue to be optimistic, because if cooler heads prevail, I think a deal could get done sooner than later," said Hillenmeyer in an interview with NBC Chicago's Peggy Kusinski. "But that involves a lot of people swallowing their ego, sitting down, and continuing to work."
The Bears are scheduled to kick off the NFL pre-season on August 7 against the St. Louis Rams in Canton, Ohio for the annual Hall of Fame game.