Tag Archives: NFL Players Association

Hey fans: The NFL lockout is all your fault

Roger Goodell and NFL owners

Welcome to a world without football. It’s time for all of us to learn legal terms like lockout and decertification and injunction. There are a lot of questions, and the foremost among them is who to blame.

And fans, it’s time for you to admit: It’s all your fault.

You were the ones who stopped coming to terrible preseason games. Don’t you know you were killing the golden goose? The NFL teams who wanted (10 home games worth of revenue figured the only way to recoup that money was to go to 18 regular-season games – damn the players and their health. The players had the temerity to question the side effects of extra games from a health standpoint, and 18 games became a sticking point in negotiations. Who knew that would create such difficulty?

(OK, so maybe the negotiations got past the 18-game issue, and in plenty of time – at least 8 hours before the extended deadline on Friday. The bottom line is that it never would have been an issue if you would have just gone to the damn preseason games and bought a couple of drinks and hot dogs.)

Don’t try to wriggle out of the blame, fans. It’s your fault, because you’re voters too. As franchises (yes, their values now top $1 billion) asked for publicly financed stadiums, you finally rebelled. You let Minnesota’s Metrodome age until the roof fell down. You let San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium age to the point that the venue (yes, it was good enough to host a Super Bowl just 12 years ago) is no longer an acceptable venue. You forced Jerry Jones to (gasp) spend his own money on the new Cowboys Stadium – and then you got mad when he tried to make money by selling more Super Bowl tickets than he had seats.

At least you anted up personal seat license money to finance part of those stadiums. But it’s still your fault, because you didn’t give these billion-dollar corporations a completely free ride. No wonder the owners’ profit margin is shrinking.

That means it’s your fault, fans, that players wanted owners to open the books and see why the profits were shrinking. It’s your fault that players wanted to see how franchises do business – and how much these billion-dollar franchises finance their lifestyles. If you fans had just done your civic duty and voted for new stadiums, there wouldn’t have been any problem, and we could have all continued with business as normal.

And now, fans, you’re siding with the players. Why the hell do you care if they stay healthy after they retired? They already entertained you. Forget about them and watch the cheaper (meant to say younger) guys.

Yes, fans, it’s all your fault. So when you get your season ticket renewal forms in the mail, write the check and send it back. Watch the draft in record-setting numbers, just like you did the combine.

Actually, we have a better idea. Let’s just make this college football. We’ll take advantage of the players, give them a little something for their trouble just to soothe the conscience, and make rules that make the players disposable. Doesn’t that sound swell? Everyone loves college football, right? (Let’s get our lawyers on that.)

So it’s all your fault. And since we didn’t get our TV-network funded lockout fund, go ahead and pay for those tickets for games that may not happen. You know, the same games we’re cancelling by locking the players out, just so we can get our piece of the pie and the piece that you took away from us by actually expecting us to make business decisions.

Do the right thing, fans. After all, it’s all your fault.

Signed, your friendly neighborhood NFL owner

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Filed under Football Relativity, NFL lockout, NFL organizations

FR: Super Bowl 45 Storylines

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisbe...

Ben Roethlisberger (left) will be on the spot at Media Day. Image via Wikipedia

Each year, the buildup to the Super Bowl is full of storylines. Some are hype, some are funny, some are ridiculous, and some actually mean something. So on the eve of the spectacle known as Media Day, we’re going to do what we do each year and break down the storylines using our Football Relativity comparison. The 10 level marks the storylines that you’ll hear the most; the 1 level is the storyline that will barely make a ripple.

If you have ideas we overlooked, suggest them via comments and we’ll add them to the comparison.

10 – Big Ben’s redemption – This story is old, because it’s been a full season since Ben Roethlisberger’s legal questions in Georgia, and several months since his league-mandated suspension. But Roethlisberger will be peppered with questions about his past and his future throughout the week. Armchair psychologists will try to determine if he has changed, if he has learned his lesson, whether women have forgiven him, and a multitude of other questions. With Big Ben giving pat answers to such questions all seasons, we can’t expect any revelations or public soul-searching, but the questions will undoubtedly be there.

9 – Aaron Rodgers’ place among the elite QBs today – Rodgers can break the glass ceiling of NFL quarterbacks if he wins this Super Bowl, much like Drew Brees did last year. Before New Orleans’ Super Bowl win, Brees was fighting for inclusion with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning among the league’s best QBs. Now Brees has turned the duo into a threesome. If Rodgers leads the Pack to a win Sunday, he’ll make it a quartet. He already has the regular-season numbers, but a Super Bowl win would vault him over Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and the other good quarterbacks into the land of the great – at least in terms of national perception. This storyline will be a talking-head go-to this week.

8 – Big Ben’s place among the elite QBs all-time – While Rodgers is out to solidify his ranking among the quarterbacks of today, Big Ben has history at stake. If he gets another Super Bowl win, he’ll join the Troy Aikman/Brady class with three rings, trailing just Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw on the all-time list. The list of QBs with two rings includes many greats – John Elway, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese – but also Jim Plunkett, a good but not great. Roethlisberger can cement his lasting legacy (and strengthen his Hall of Fame case) by moving from the two-ring to the three-ring club.

7 – Packers IR controversy – Maybe it was the lull of the bye week, but the story about how the Packers were treating their 16 players on injured reserve blew up last week and will linger into media day. A quick review: First, the Packers announced that their IR players wouldn’t arrive in Texas until Thursday, which would leave them out of the team photo that happens Tuesday. Nick Barnett and JerMichael Finley took to Twitter to protest being left out, and the Packers rescheduled the photo until Friday. Then Rodgers publicly criticized players who were doing their rehab away from Green Bay, even though that’s a fairly typical decision for players. Again, Barnett and Finley (among others) took offense. The Packers will claim the waters have been smoothed over, but questions will persist all week and especially when injured players are available to the media later in the week.

6 – Looming lockout – Because both commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith will hold press conferences this week, the looming lockout will be front-page news. There will be plenty of posturing, and both sides will try to win the battle of public perception. Who knows who will win; but we do know for sure that headlines will be forthcoming.

5 – Hines Ward retirement – Some stories have percolated suggesting that Ward, the long-time Steelers receiver and Super Bowl 40 MVP, might retire were the Steelers to win the Super Bowl. But Ward has said his third ring won’t be enough to transition him out of the game. Still, reports are out there enough that Ward will have to declare he’s coming back more than once to the media onslaught this week.

4 – Steelers injuries – Both teams have injuries, but the Steelers’ are higher profile. Reports say that Pro Bowl rookie center Maurkice Pouncey is out, although the team hasn’t officially ruled him out. Star defensive end Aaron Smith faced an early-week MRI that will determine whether he’s able to play. Former first-round pick Ziggy Hood has played quite well in Smith’s stead, which could allow the Steelers to bring Smith back in a limited role. But Pouncey’s replacement, Doug Legursky, will be a pretty significant drop-off from Pouncey’s level of play. That makes this an on-field issue worth talking about this week.

3 – Clay Matthews’ stardom – Aside from Rodgers, the Packer with the most to gain from a marketing standpoint this week is Matthews, the star outside linebacker and third-generation NFL player. Matthews has a distinctive look and two fine pro seasons, and that will make him a popular target of questions, especially by the non-traditional media. It’ll be interesting to see if Matthews can become a breakout star this week.

2 – none

1 – Packers injuries – While the Packers would like to have either OLB Frank Zombo or Erik Walden available Sunday to start across from Clay Matthews, this isn’t a make-or-break proposition for the Packers. However, it is an excuse for us to declare once again that Zombo is the best surname in the NFL. It’s a name fit for an X-Man or a wrestler, and it’s his real last name. We want him to be a star just so we can hear ZOMBO more often.

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Filed under Football Relativity, NFL games, NFL organizations, NFL playoffs, Super Bowl

The 18-game season is coming

The NFL Players Association made a counter-offer to the league in its negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday, and the most newsworthy part of this offer was that it accepted the reality of an 18-game season. This is big news, because it basically guarantees more football going forward. If the players are willing to accept two more regular-season games in exchange for other concessions, then there’s no doubt that the two sides can agree on the hows and whys of making that happen.

The NFLPA’s conditions for an 18-game schedule, according to ESPN’s account of the latest proposal, include:

• Voluntary offseason workouts would be reduced from the current 14 weeks to five weeks or 20 days (four days a week, four-hour maximum per day).
• Significantly reduced contact between players during training camp with four practices a week consisting of helmetless and padless periods.
• Two in-season bye weeks.
• Expanded rosters from the current 53 to 56 or 57, in addition to practice squads.
• Increased pro-rated salaries for players under contract.
• Reduction of the amount of games players need to become vested to qualify for post-career health care and pension benefits.
(Note: Italicized language from the article linked above.)

We talked about the overcrowded NFL offseason in May and offered a plan to fix it, and that seems to be one place the NFLPA is focusing in this offer. Less practice time in the offseason and limited practices in pads during training camp will help the physical wear and tear.

But the bigger issues the NFLPA is going for in this issue are the bottom three bullet points – more roster spots (i.e. more jobs); increased pro-rated salaries; and quicker vesting into the retirement program. These are all ideas that will really benefit the rank and file of the league. Right now, players have to be on rosters for four years to be vested, and that’s a tick longer than the average NFL career. Vesting after two or three years will allow many more players retirement benefits. And if roster sizes also increase, these vesting options will be easier to attain.

Who knows if the NFL will go for this offer. The players are certainly asking for a lot. But they aren’t closed to the idea of 18 games, which means you can basically book that possibility becoming a reality. That’s the headline here.

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