What if NFL players walked out now?

Former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce never played in the NFC North, although the Minnesota Vikings tried to sign him several times. Pierce has developed an outspoken voice as an ESPN analyst, however, and Wednesday he offered an interesting proposal for active players to take an early advantage in the NFL's upcoming labor battle.

Via Twitter, Pierce wrote: "What if the players stood up right now and walked out during the playoffs? The Owners have all the leverage right now. ... Tv/Owners would panic if players made a stance right now during the playoffs. Which the NFL/TEAMS make a lot of money during the playoffs."

Barring an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the NFL is likely to lock out players March 3. Players have far more leverage now, Pierce reasoned, when they could impact owners' income. Players, on the other hand, have already earned their full 2010 salaries and are paid a relatively minor and pre-determined playoff share if their team makes it that far. Even a 15-minute slowdown before the start of a playoff game would make TV executives "go crazy," Pierce wrote.

But if nothing happens until March, players will be left without income or health insurance until after the new CBA is reached. Owners will continue to earn revenue through the NFL's television contracts.

Pierce: "MARCH 3 is right around the corner. And the Owners/teams r in the Front running with this situation. Just food for Thought"

This idea is radical and certainly not something any fan wants to consider. I doubt it will happen. But if nothing else, it's a good jumping-off point for us to begin discussing the possibility of an extended period of labor strife. Sorry to be the messenger, folks, but it's reality.