The forefathers of the American Professional Football Association -- nowadays known as the NFL -- who are no longer with us are no doubt turning over in their graves at the state of affairs that has transpired over the past several months. Can you imagine their reaction if somebody were to tell them that the NFL may miss games this year because the owners and players cannot agree on how $1 billion of the $9 billion NFL income should be split? The fact is that both sides of this mega-business/monopoly should be ashamed of themselves.
When the APFA was established it wasn’t about the money – how it was spent, where it was spent, or who was doing the spending. The all-time great players who made the history of the NFL what it is weren’t concerned more about salaries than they were about winning and their love of the game.
Today, many fans are cancelling their NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions, postponing their season ticket renewals, and boycotting the merchandise of NFL teams because of the perceived greed of the NFL and its players. If the NFL learned anything from the Major League Baseball strike in 1994 then they should stop the drama and get back to business as usual.
Right now, the only thing they are showing the fans is that the NFL is all about the money and has very little to do with the fans or any love or respect of the game -- though I will grant them that both sides appear to have the desire to win.
All kidding aside, most fans concur that they would be grateful merely for the opportunity to put on an NFL uniform or play one down on an NFL field. The massive amount of money the owners and players are fighting over is completely reliant on the support of those same fans. If the NFL and the Players Association insist on carrying on with this nonsense then they stand to lose support and thus the very income they are fighting over. It’s a travesty that the only time the feelings of the fans come into play is when there is leverage to be gained on the side of either party.
Hey NFL, here’s a novel idea – how about taking that $1 billion you are currently fighting over and putting it back into the pockets of your fans by doing away with the personal seat license for season ticket holders, reducing ticket prices for non-season ticket holders, and lowering your ridiculously high merchandise prices?
Here are some of the responses posted on the most recent letter no doubt issued to the fans by Roger Goodell’s highly paid assistant:
“Dear R. Goodell and D. Smith, all NFL owners, and all NFL players: Shame on all of you. I don't care who lies at fault. There is a huge pool of money to split and its only there because of people like me. As I write this I stare at walls full of Steelers memorabilia that has brought me a lot of memories and enjoyment. I have been to Super Bowls, countless playoff games, and even more regular season games. If there is a lockout I am DONE. NFL (Sunday) ticket GONE, contributing to your salaries as players and owners…DONE. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Owners, if you want more money justify it. The whole thing makes me sick. D. Smith- If (Gene) Upshaw was still in charge this would have been settled a week after the Super Bowl. Stop trying to be Johnnie Cochran.”
“(This is a) really sad day for us-The Fans. This should show everybody (that) the NFL and the players don't care about any of us. They care about one thing: Money. The NFL generates $9 billion a year and whatever money the owners make it or how much their franchise value goes up, it will never be enough. We show incredible support to this great sport but the parties involved couldn't care less about us. Lawyers: Please enjoy your millions you are about to make. “
“Mr. Smith and the NFLPA: you don’t deserve your jobs. You leadership is akin to Custer's on the Big Horn. Your predecessor worked nearly hand in hand with the previous Commissioner and what did that unison gain? The nearly unstoppable growth of the game, untold gross revenues generated, larger television contracts, higher and higher salary caps, a vision of the NFL as an organization that was truly guided to success. What do you think you are building? I don't know of one single entity (aside from the NFL) over the last four years that hasn't had to take a step backward; reduce costs, work more efficiently, and cut workforce.
“Mr. Goodell: ‘We want what is best for the fans.’ Here is what the fans really think, Mr. Goodell, you have systematically enacted every possible course of action to take the fun out of the game. You fine players for playing football and yet you allow referees to continually blow calls with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. If Chad Johnson elebrates, you fine him, yet when young men are drafted ahead of one another, you hug them. Why is passion at the Draft different than passion in the end-zone? If you need more money, why not let fans buy into the teams, as any other corporation has done? An NFL team is a lot safer bet than most other investments these days and most of us would love to own a piece of our favorite team. I know… it's not really about what we think or want, just what makes all of you more money to haggle about.”
In summary, I guess my point is that if the NFL wants to form a deal that “works for the players, works for the owners, and works for the fans,” then perhaps they should actually take the fans into account when they are negotiating -- especially considering they want to take the game out of our local stadiums and draw more attention to it overseas so they can make even more money at a time when the rest of the world is paying $3.71 per gallon of gasoline so they can drive back and forth to work and feed their families.
And they say money is the root of all evil.
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