A Fan’s Thoughts on a Possible Work Stoppage

| February 12th, 2011

The NFL, as it stands today, is the most successful sports league in the history of the civilization.  It laughs at the NBA, mocks NCAA everything sports in its diary and pays the NHL clean its bathroom every other weekend.  Baseball is only referred to as our “national pastime” because the people who write that phrase in newspaper and speak it on television are of a certain generation and usually a pale-like complexion.  (Ask a 40 year-old black man in one of the shitty parts of Newark, NJ if baseball is his national pastime?  Then get the hell out of the shitty part of Newark, believe me.)  You don’t need to trust me on this.  When a Monday night football game between two mid-market clubs like the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars beats an ALCS game featuring the New York Yankees, one corner has to throw in the towel.

Nobody wants a work stoppage.  Nobody wants to see free agency delayed in March or an inability to trade talent during the April draft.  Nobody wants OTAs or training camp time reduced, as we’ve already seen teams struggle enough to start seasons with their abundance of prep time.  The NFL has become a full-year endeavor and for those of us who love it, there’s never enough.  My beliefs and opinions are not merely academic and almost never objective.  They are heartfelt and wildly subjective when it comes to the Chicago Bears.

I’m willing to state unequivocally that the NFLPA needs to stand firm, stay resilient and refuse to work under their current economic conditions.  There is just so much wrong with how NFL players are handled. 

  • Because of salary cap restrictions and the lack of a rookie pay scale, the day-to-day NFL player makes less than Kyle Farnsworth while unproven rookies enter the league with 20+ million signing bonuses. 
  • Because of roster rules, teams are forced to put players with a broken arm in Week One on IR even if they might be able to return in December for meaningful games.  (It is time for baseball-style 4 game, 8 game and full season injured lists.)
  • The NFL needs to increase roster sizes and practice squads and they need to alter rules to allow teams to protect the players on the practice squad.  This should also be an interest for owners who’d prefer not having injuries cripple a season.
  • The NFL pension/health care system post-career is absurd.  In order to earn post-career benefits a player must become vested with four credited seasons.  These are men who put their brains and bodies at risk for the enjoyment of us and the pocket books of owners and it should be legally demanded that their health care needs be protected after a single full season in the league.  (We’re often talking about pensions of only about ten grand or so.)
And this is just the start.  The NFLPA has done a terrible job over the years protecting the long-term financial and physical security of its members.  There are those of you who can’t get worked up emotionally over “millionaire athletes” and I understand that.  But if you love this game and you must support the reason the you love it: the players.