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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Some things & Other Things: the Locked Out edition

By Dr. Bill Chachkes-Executive Editor-Football Reporters Online

Everyone is pointing the finger at each other since this past Friday afternoon. The owners accusing the players of not bargaining in good faith, the players accusing the owners (and by extension the league) of wanting this to happen all along. The Players filed a class action suit (Brady Vs. the NFL) after voting to decertify. What drives me nuts here is the players never asked for anything then what they had asked for since 2009: for the owners to open the books. The feeble hearted attempt to do that at the 11th hour was just that. Feeble. Are you telling me the owners really don’t care about how much money they are leaving on the table? That the players really wanted to go the route of litigation as opposed to negotiation?

The league released a “summary “ of it’s proposal, amid other press releases coordinated by Team Owners, and in combat directed at the players. While they all were apologetic to a fault to the fans, not once did they offer to extend the deadline to keep talking, even though the owners claimed up until Friday that they were closer then they ever had been to a settlement. Remember they initiated this by “opting out” of the 2006 extension, because they felt they had given up too much.

The Players never got even the little things they asked for from the Owners Group..

The fact is that the Players never waivered on two serious issues: The extended 18 game schedule was a deal breaker for the players. While the owners and The NFL told us that the “fans want more meaningful” games, the owners never truly showed us they cared about the wear and tear on the players bodies. Did the NFL really take a survey of the fans asking them: do you want two more regular season games and two less pre-season ones? Where are the results of this research?

The second issue was player health and safety, for both current players and the “pre-1993” players. Five years of post career health insurance is just unacceptable in the modern age, while the NFL gets doctors to “lie” in Hearings that “Concussions caused by playing football” don’t lead to “Permanent Brain Injury,” or a lifetime of “headaches.” Just ask Brent Boyd, the former Vikings Offensive lineman who has been to capital hill to testify. He runs a great organization called Dignity After Football (DAF.Org), and if you aren’t totally swayed by what I say, talk to him for 10 minutes. I wonder if he’s had a good night’s sleep since he left the game in 1987.

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. John Mara, and I believe he and Bob Kraft were part of the moderate camp in this mess. Did you notice how he was at the front of the negotiating panel the last several days. That’s because I believe he really wanted to get something done. That’s why you didn’t see Richardson or Jones speak much recently, because no one really wants to hear what “they” were saying. These were the guys who wanted to “Break the players will” just a few weeks ago, that went on 60 Minutes and said a “Lockout wouldn’t be such a bad thing” Remember? I did…

They all talk about how they give to charity and help the less fortunate, but what did they just do to the working class and small businesses that depend on the NFL to earn it’s living. They have already priced out the working class with PSL’s and rising ticket prices, but wanted the players to “see the reality” that the economy was shrinking their profit margins, keeping them from building new stadiums. Why not rebuild the ones that are already in place? Why spend money that you don’t have, or expect local cities to come up with it? To me, the players take all the risks. They are the ones who could die or be paralyzed in a quick moment, or suffer permanent head or spine injuries like so many do, and don’t realize it until long after the fact.

True, no one forces these men to play the game. Many do it for the love of competition. Many do it because it is their only way to a better education and a better life. But if they are going to play, can’t they get the protection they deserve from severe life threatening injury? Can’t they have lifetime insurance? To me this is more important then how to split an extra few million.

Well, at least the draft isn’t cancelled….

You are now going to see the real worth of various teams’ scouting departments. With no free agency period in sight (unless a court ruling forces the parties back to the table and the NFL resumes team operations), the NFL Draft will now be the defining moment for teams to fill their needs. Still, after the player is selected, beyond the initial phone call, no team can have contact with a drafted player until the CBA conflict is settled (at least not legally). Sucks if this was your year to get a QB…

While this doesn’t directly cost me financially, it does impact me in that I only have “half” a sport to report on, the college side of the game. If it doesn’t get settled by the summer, you are going to see a lot of angry fans, a lot of people financially hurt and even businesses ruined, and people asking the question that no one wants to hear: “why bother to watch the NFL anymore?” Is that what the owners truly want?
Why should we feel bad for someone who tells his team “your taking a pay cut of twenty five percent until this is settled, as several teams have done already.

Baseball never fully recovered from the strike of 1994, and Hockey didn’t recover from their strike & lost season several years back either. Can The NFL really survive this? All we can hope for is a quick resolution by the courts at this point.

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