Alright, time to start this with a bang- I hope! I did consider writing my first official piece about the need of the Minnesota Vikings to get a full-time Voodoo Witch Doctor on staff, as well as the means to do so, but we'll save that for later.
Oh, and a brief introduction- my real name is Kyle Segall. Nice to "officially" meet you all. I'm going to start writing under the user name KJSegall- I actually recently moved from Orlando, so my old user name was anachronistic anyways.
So, obviously, we've all been reading about the near daily updates in the CBA and the negotiations/ lack thereof surrounding it. One thing that I am curious about, and would like to know, is exactly how the majority of us here feel regarding the various sides in this 'conflict'.
To be sure, there are three- not two- sides to this. There are the owners, the players, and of course- the fans. That third side seems to be often forgotten about when those first two get together. But just because we, the fans, are naturally losing out should a lockout occur doesn't mean that some of us don't feel that one side is right and the other is wrong.
So let's examine, in a hopefully very objective way, the various sides after the jump.
(My reaction to the current CBA situation.)
By the way, before we actually get into this- I feel there are plenty of articles out there by now explaining, in very understandable form, the different aspects of the CBA and the disputes surrounding it. Therefore, I will be somewhat 'glossing over' a few details, so to speak. If you want a ‘cheat sheet’ for your own purposes on the CBA, I would suggest one of the two following links:
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-laborquestions090810 (simplified fan breakdown)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gabriel-a-feldman/the-legal-issues-behind-t_b_820579.html (detailed legal breakdown)
In a nutshell, the players want the following things to occur in the new CBA- a fair (to them, of course) percentage of the revenues generated by the league, a continuation and not expansion of the current 16 game season, benefits for retired players, and some changes to the current RFA/ UFA system (as well as the use of franchise/ transition tags).
The players (and by extension of course the NFLPA as an entity) could be argued to be in the wrong for the following reasons. Some feel that prior to the decision by both sides to engage in negotiations with a federal mediator, the NFLPA was mostly 'grandstanding' for both congress as well as the media, rather than actually trying to get a deal done. Players also make very large sums of money in order to play a game- the current NFL minimum salary for a rookie is $285,000.00- that's the kind of money many of us dream about making in a single year- heck, for some of us, even in five/ ten years. And of course, marquee players make much, much more. Grime recently posted an excellent point that, if a player is making millions of dollars for several years- well, it's their fault if they didn't set up a nest egg in advance. (I'm looking at you, Bryant McKinnie. Unless you want to invite me to one of your parties...) It could even be argued that a change in the current rules of FA and associated tags could turn more players into 'mercenaries' rather than team players- and many fans really don't want to see that.
Now, here's the reverse argument for each of those points. Prior to recent talks with the federal mediator, the NFLPA could be seen as, rather than grandstanding, reaching out to fans for support in their cause. And that at least shows that they understand that it's the fans that drive the NFL- and can we really blame them for wanting support? And while yes, Bryant McKinnie doesn't exactly present a shining example of the fiscal responsibility of a professional football player, sometimes we forget that, for the vast majority of the players, an NFL career is a short, brutish thing that can leave your body (and tragically at times even your mind) ravaged. At the current average playing life of a player (3.7 years, rounded up to 4 in this case), the bottom level guys have made $1,080,000.00. Sounds not bad- but their career, and that money, is now finished. At the end of the average American's career, they have made $1,699,000.00. But keep in mind- when most of us retire, we're not facing the potential of staggering medical bills due to work related injuries. Nor are we facing them for 40-50 years. And the current system of RFA/ UFA, and again franchise tags/ transition tags can force players like Ray Edwards to accept potentially much less money than they could be making should they have a fair chance to test the market. Put this into your own perspective- how would you feel if that happened at your job? Rather than get a chance to take a better paycheck at a competitor's company, you are contractually forced to take less at your current one- just 'cuz.
Of course, in a nutshell, the owners want the opposite of what the players want- they want to increase their percentage of revenue (as well as take two, rather than one, billion off of the top prior to that division), they would like to increase the schedule to 18 games (and therefore also shortening the preseason to only two games), a general continuation of the current FA system, and also a rookie wage scale.
The owners could be argued to be in the wrong for the following reasons. In a battle of "billionaires vs. millionaires", while the vast majority of us feel left out, it's still easiest to say that it's the billionaires being greedy by asking for more money. The extension of a season to 18 games will cause increased wear and tear on the players' bodies (already often ravaged under the 16 game season), and would therefore also lead to shorter careers, more injuries, and also possibly more meaningless games by the end of the season. The current RFA system, as well as tags, can prevent players from their capitalistic right to try and make the most money possible in their careers- and the same could be argued regarding the proposed rookie wage scale. And the owners can be seen as disconnected and naive by believing that a lockout will only have short-term negative effects, and solely in the financial realm; for an example of what a lockout can do, just look at the MLB. (Granted, that was a strike, not a lockout- but the fact remains that a shortened season can have several negative aftershocks regardless of why it was shortened.) The NFL benefited in many ways from the MLB's suffering- it could in turn face the reverse situation in the future.
However, the owners also can benefit from the reverse of those arguments. While it is the players who make the game on the field what it is, it is the owners who have made the NFL, as a whole, what it is. And, at least according to them, the reason they want an additional billion off of the top is to keep growing the sport- additional financial support for new stadiums for teams that need them (like the Vikings), spreading the NFL outside of the United States, and other plans to keep the NFL moving forward. Make no bones about it- the NFL has grown into a monster, and that has happened business-wise because of the owners and the league FO, not the players. The owners' desire to increase the schedule to 18 games, while having obvious financial benefits for them, can also be seen as geared towards giving the fans more of what they want. Very few NFL fans really get much out of watching preseason games- take two out and make them real games, and we're just getting more for our buck, so to speak. The rookie wage scale is a logical protection for owners against highly paid busts like JaMarcus Russel- the owners take a risk every time they bring a rookie onto their team, and it is only fair that the rookie proves they are worth a high price tag before getting it. And on that same train of thought, the owners are also making an investment in that rookie- should they prove themselves, RFA, franchise tags, and transition tags allow the owners and the teams a chance to properly secure that investment before another team can snatch them away.
The fans want a season. That is all.
There's no downside to that. But I include this as an option (listed as 'neither', since of course no matter what, we're all on 'the fans' side') because, for some of us, the whole thing is just a mess- neither side is right, and they’re all making a grand mistake of forgetting who exactly is the foundation of the NFL- us. They’re a bunch of people who already make ridiculous sums of money arguing primarily over an obscene amount, and their motivation is solely greed, pure and simple. Or perhaps you have a more complex view, but still believe that neither side is truly in the right.
So how do you all feel? Don’t ask me, by the way- I’m an objective observer here. I’ll counterpoint replies for the sake of discussion below, but I’m going to keep my personal opinion close to the chest, at least for a day or two. Sound off, Vike faithful.
Oh, and thanks for reading!