I was commenting on another post about the changes we have seen in football with the lack of continuity and team loyalty of players for their teams, and how excessive financial contracts have negatively affected the game, with great disparity between the elite and non elite players. Someone commented that free agency has enabled the NFL franchises to draw on fantasy football fans love for individual players, by paying huge amounts to the elite players, and rather than pay older vets and middle of the road players what they are worth, the draft has become key to building young teams. I do agree that this seems to a pattern, that young men that can be had for song for 4-5 years without renegotiation is a tremendous advantage for the franchise, and can bump out players that in the past might have stayed with the team. The point was made that this "classism" created by such disparity, and the subsequent lack of loyalty by management and players is the inevitable outcome of free agency, and nothing can likely be done about it. It was said what we remember about player loyalty and cohesiveness to their teams is a thing of the past. When my response to this comment grew, I decided to create another post for discussion.
The entire question is, has Roger's contract created a precedent that will erode things about football we have held dear, such as the loyalty and commitment, of the team and player for one another? And if there is a decrease in such loyalty, will it impact our enjoyment for the game? My take on this is that what matters most to those of us who are fans will not be lost, for we are the ones who choose where we invest our time and money. Loyalty is a value that we as a society do not take lightly. I believe sports entertainment that lasts also has in it basic values that are supported by the fans who keep the entertainment alive. Football, and the NFL institutions that have supported it, are supported by guys like you and me, and we historically care for is fairness in sports competition and in the workplace.
Guys like us are like most people in this country, we care about our families, our communities, our nation, and in a general sense, the well-being of the world. Guys like us know right from wrong, good from bad, the truth from lies, and justice from injustice. We see what evil is, and we care about the well being of those who matter to us, as described above. So if "we" are the ones that create the institutions, the institutions have no power without us. We are the good guys because we care about justice. Ambition, power, and the desire for wealth can be misguided by some, even all for a season, yet for the most part, guys like us are satisfied with working hard and staying within the means we have. Guys like us keep the misguided and power-hungry or wrong doers in line, whether the president, our children, or NFL franchises.
Nature inherently stays in balance, and the institutions that are man-made follow the same laws of balance. When we are close to a situation we see only a part, and if that part is in decline, it seems like it will be forever. Yet looking from the broad perspective of time and history, all things balance out, even the wrong actions of a few. Some say business is driven by profit, and businesses will continually explore ways to gain profit, even at the expense of consumers. Yet even this catches up with the institutions men create to gain profit. What we see as powerful, only receives power from those willing to give it. The checks and balances of our government reflect the checks and balances of nature and of human behavior such as in marriage. Each member has their own needs and goals, and all members are in constant negotiation to work together to attain their goals. So business while focused on profit, must also meet the needs of consumers. What is the need of a football fan? To focus on that one player we like for our fantasy team? Or to be a part of a NFL team that is successful in winning, not just one game or one season, but successful for many years. I think the latter outweighs the former. As so, the fan has much more power to change the values and goals of the NFL than he may believe, for as all business people know, the consumer's demand will be met or the business will fail.
I bring up Aaron Roger's incredible and historic contract. What will be the outcome in the long run of this contract on the game? Putting it into perspective, it puts emphasis on only a few high salaried players, and creates dependence on each draft to be successful in raising up quality players who strengthen the team. There are many unpredictable factors that can influence this style of growth that also have the potential to undermine a team's success. The strength or weakness of each draft class, the skills of the GM or coach in selecting players, the money available to teams to have a competitive management and scouting department, the attitudes of current players toward rookies having a negative impact on the longevity of their careers, and the fans attitude toward teams that cut popular players. The one thing that I believe can be predicted however, is that in the imbalance of money and power created within the team members, will negatively impact both team unity, and team success on the field. This is a team game.
Within the collection of franchises themselves, they must stay competitive with one another, or they all lose. One cannot have advantage over another because of the rules. If so, the rules change to bring balance. ie. The field being shortened to prevent elite KRs from gaining the advantage for their team. Some GMS are great in the draft, and some are not. This could also be balanced by rule changes, perhaps a cap on coaches and management salaries?
What is the outcome of paying one to three players excessive amounts, and lowering the level of play from the remainder of the team? Bottom line? Wins and losses. I believe the team that finds balance between the highest paid, and lowest paid will have the greatest balance, and the most well rounded team. This is a team game, not an individual sport. Balance will bring success, wins, and greater fan satisfaction, which translated, brings greater revenue to the franchise. Winning is the key in sports entertainment, and while teams may experiment as they are with the disparity of wages between players, I believe it won't work in the long run because individual players do not entertain us as a winning does. We loved watching OJ's highlights, or other great players, yet their losing teams had a hard time filling seats, and this in the end matters most to the owners.
At the present time, the five year contract top rookies sign gives the advantage to ownership. Why? because these first five years are the prime year for many of the players that play the game. The average career span for NFL football players is much less than five years. When that fourth or fifth year comes up, they be can be cut, or take a much smaller contract because of injury, a down year, or a glut of similar players in their position. Vets have lost advantage with the new rule changes, except for those who are elite and don't get injured. If I were an NFL player, I would not be very happy with how these rules have changed to undermine my career. Only a very small few have gained from it, and their gain is for themselves, not the team, it doesn't make the game better. I believe Tom Brady took a lower contract because he wants success for his team. It was unusual, but a classy thing to do. Rogers didn't need the amount he finally got, and I believe he weakened his team's success by demanding what he did. Down the road, others will grow stronger as GB gets weaker because they limited their salary cap. Teams will learn from the mistake of the teams that have put an excessive focus on their franchise QBs and skill players. No one player can win games, no matter how good they are. We learned that paying high school sports.