Yesterday the NFL owners and the Players Association agreed to meet for 7 days with an independent mediator. The only negative is that the mediator’s findings or opinions will not be binding. I believe that any conversation between two sides can’t be a bad thing. There have been some people who have laughed this off and think it isn’t a big deal. They believe that it is just more posturing by one of the sides. Well maybe this is true, but meeting for 7 straight days is better than not meeting. It is at least a good sign. If they are unable to come to an agreement before midnight on March 4th, what does that mean to you as an Eagles fan?
When you take a step back and look at each side’s story, I can understand where they are coming from. The owners have invested millions or even billions of dollars into their teams, they are the ones who are taking a huge financial risk and deserve to get a good return from their investment. But they are the ones who opted out the last collective bargaining agreement. The players also have a fair stake at the revenue stream that the NFL’s popularity has unleashed. The super bowl had a record television rating and it seems like the NFL has turned into a cash cow. The game is the most popular sport in the country and the overall condition of the league is at an all time high. They are the ones who risk their long term health and their skill puts the butts in the seats. But the players are just the “employees” and in every business the owners are going to make a lot more than their employees. They are not risking a billion dollars of their own money to make the team run.
With labor disputes people see a need to pick sides and bash the opposing view. I take the side of the result that gets me football on Sundays! I probably have the same opinion of a lot of fans, I don’t really care who “wins” the negations. At the end of the day, it is billionaires arguing with millionaires. If there is football on Sundays in September, I am happy. It would be a slap in the face to the NFL fans if there is a work stoppage. The unemployment rate is still close to an all-time high and there are millions of Americans who can’t pay their bills. The owners don’t “need” the money, they just want more money so they can buy another house in the Bahamas or buy their 8th Bentley that they don’t need. Roger Goodell went on a rampage with fines last season trying to make the game safer. I may be crazy but adding 2 more games doesn’t help player safety. I think that the main reason for the increase concern for player safety is more posturing on the owners side, they want to be able to say 10 years from now while facing a lawsuit from an injured player,” look we tried to make safety a priority.” Though I do believe Goodell and the Owners do care about the players, money is the most important thing and they see the players as inventory and an investment.
Most NFL players have been catered to their entire lives; they got full rides to the best universities in the country while getting all the “perks” the boosters have to offer. They are whisked away after being drafted and given a fat contract to sign before they step on the field. I know that every player doesn’t make Tom Brady money and play for 15 years and the average NFL career is about 3 years. But if you play 3 seasons and make the minimum, you will earn about $1 million. In the end, that’s not a bad salary. Instead of blowing that million, maybe they could try a thing called saving or investing. I’m not trying to sound bitter, both parties have worked hard. They are just fortunate to be in an industry where they can make A LOT of money. They both have a right to the massive revenue stream that the NFL produces. The owners invested a lot of money and the players create a large portion of the revenue. But if there is a work stoppage, both parties will come across as greedy millionaires and the NFL will lose a lot of fans.
The Eagles have a lot of money to spend in the off-season but if there is not an offseason, they can’t spend it. What will happen if there is not an agreement in place to mid September? Will there be a free agency period? A final and maybe overlooked consequence is the rehab of injured players. If the players are locked out on March 4th, players will have to rehab on their own. Hopefully the Eagles trainers can have a plan in place for those players; the 2 that immediately come to mind are Nate Allen and Brandon Graham. I have heard that Allen has said his rehab should be over by that time, but with doubt that Graham will even be 100 percent by training camp. It is likely a lockout could slow his rehab.
The fact that the two sides are meeting is a positive sign but they are still a long way from an agreement. I believe there could be a massive negative backlash if there is a work stoppage, fans could walk away from the game for some time. It took the McGwire/ Sosa Steroid and Homerun show in 1998 to get the MLB back in the good graces of the fans. While the NHL hasn’t lost much popularity in Philly, it has been delegated to at least 4th on the American sports hierarchy. They have been bumped off ESPN and now there are big regular season games and some playoff games are on Versus. The Eagles are a very young team who need to work with the coaching staff as much as possible. If there is a lockout it would leave the Eagles as one of the teams who will be hurt the most from it.