C’mon guys. It’s time. It’s time to end the bickering, to end the dallying, to end the complaining. It is time to get a deal done, end the lockout, and let NFL football resume.
It seems the NFL is stuck in neutral right now, with the engines revved up but with no forward motion. The broadcast companies are waiting, the sponsors are waiting, and the fans are waiting. Free agents still don’t know where they might be employed and living during the next season. Heck, even the agents are waiting – and they like waiting as much as sharks like waiting for dinner. Meanwhile the regular season is due to start in 2.5 months, and there still hasn’t been a free agent period, or training camps, or draft picks signed. Everyone is poised and plans are in place, but until an agreement is reached it seems the season is slowly being strangled to death. Owners and players are standing at a 9 billion dollar altar and talking to their lawyers instead of saying their vows to each other.
So players, go to the meetings with the owners. Treat them like the employers they are – after all, they are the ones that sign your paychecks. It is time to sit up and stare your opposition in the eyes and realize that they ultimately have the upper hand. Realize that no matter what the courts say, if the NFL owners don’t want to play football, they won’t play football. So understand their position. Listen to their offers. If you don’t like it, make a counteroffer. That is how deals get done. In the end, no matter what the deal, understand you make a better living than 99.9% of Americans.
Owners, treat the players with as valued employees, who have a skill set that very few in America have. Realize that they put their careers on the line every time the step between the white lines. Cherish the fact that they have worked out and studied and played and prayed their entire life to become better employees for you. Look at the past players, who have had multiple surgeries and walk with limps and can’t remember their names. Even go so far as to (egad!) treat your employees with respect.
As partners, both sides need to realize the best deal means that both players and the owners must be happy with the deal. Or, if you are a glass is half empty kind of person; at least make sure both sides are equally unhappy. Because in the end, that means both sides compromised. Both sides need to understand that if professional football isn’t being played, fans would adjust – we wouldn’t like it, but we would adjust. College football has its own issues, but football is football and it would become an acceptable alternative to many people (and to many sponsors).
You both have made your points.
The owners have explained that, while they care about the game, it is apparently hard to own a football team. They have explained that the profits they are making aren’t enough. They have explained that the public, during a one of the worst recessions in recent history, no longer feels the need to foot the cost for new stadiums (so that they can make more money). The players have said that, while they care about the game, they are not getting fair wages for their labor. The players have said that they are worried about long term health care (even though they complain about eliminating head-to-head hits). The players have said they don’t like the dictatorial nature of the Personal Conduct policy that punishes them when they break the law.
We understand the issues. We just don’t care. We know that if owning an NFL franchise was so onerous, you could sell at anytime. I am sure there are a bunch of spoiled rich men out there that would love the prestige of owning a football team. We understand that there physical risks for a player playing the game of football. But we also know the unemployment rate in the US is currently 9.1%, so there are lots of jobs out there where you can avoid injury if you wanted to do something else. We know there are thousand of athletes that would kill or die to step onto the field of an NFL stadium and play a game in front of 60,000 screaming fans.
So in the end, it is time to quit telling people how much you care about the game, and start playing it.