With every blue-collar sports fan there comes a sense of admiration and maybe even jealousy towards professional athletes. Men who get paid ridiculous amounts of money to play a sport. We may not admit that we are jealous of these larger than life figures but deep down we wish we could suit up for the Eagles every Sunday instead of suiting up in a blue jump suit as we jump into our beat-up work van. As the NFL Lockout hits day three I know I can’t help but be filled with frustration at a bunch of men fighting over who gets the most billions of dollars as I work to pay my bills week by week. It seems ludicrous, as a fan we shell out hundreds and thousands of dollars annually just for a taste of a pastime we love and adore. For what? To watch these overpaid, money hungry, selfish athletes pine for more millions.
If you go to the root of the problem the greed for more money is the burning fire in this whole ordeal. At the height of popularity for the NFL, after the most watched Super Bowl in history and 24 years of peace, it is now that we decide that “hey ya know things just aren’t good enough.” It makes no sense. The owners argue they are the ones investing billions upon billions and deserve a bigger piece of the pie. The players feel as if they are the ones putting their lives, their family’s future all on the line for the owners and it is their talents that generate the billions.
The gap between the money was apparently just too big to overcome; the fight for an 18 game schedule by the owners was something the players were just not willing to agree upon.
"The only people who want 18 games are those that have never played ONE," Eagles player rep Winston Justice said. "Walk a Monday in our bodies. There is no 'new equipment' or 'fines' that can get my knee better. I'll spend all offseason rehabbing because of one game, one play really."
With the NFL currently at a standstill we wonder what will be of the 2011 season. The players have requested an injunction to block the lockout that was put into place by the owners on Saturday. If the Minneapolis courts rule to block the lockout it is most likely that the NFL will operate under 2010 rules for 2011. This would mean no salary cap for all 32 NFL teams.
Players with expired contracts would need six years of NFL service time to be eligible for unrestricted free agency, rather than the four seasons required when the salary cap system was in effect; players with expired contracts and three to five seasons of NFL experience would be restricted free agents. Each team would have an extra transition-player tag, in addition to the one franchise-player or transition-player designation allowed per club under the salary cap system, to restrict players' movement in free agency, and there would be limits on the free agent activity of last season's final eight playoff teams.
In the first work stoppage since 1987 it is unclear what kind of lasting impact this will have on the NFL and on the Philadelphia Eagles. No real practices, no training camps or minicamps, no workouts. How do you stay together as a team and progressively get better as a unit with no way organized way to go about doing it. The lapsed time could end up being very damaging for a young team like the Eagles. It could also be extremely damaging for the NFL as an entity.
"I believe this, and I'll take it to my grave, the 1982 strike ruined the Philadelphia Eagles, Dick Vermeil, Leonard Tose," Former Eagles QB Ron Jaworski said on Monday. "We were never the same team after that 57-day strike. Not even close to the same team."
On Sunday Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie released a letter to Eagle fans assuring them of their progress and dedication to building a Super Bowl team in preparation for the 2011 season. Stating their commitment to collective bargaining and federal mediation until an agreement is met. Knowing the relentless passion of Philly phans it seemed to be the Eagles brass quick attempt to salvage a relationship that is swiftly growing unpleasant. As each lockout day is added on it is almost certain that every phan will grow even more frustrated with the NFL.
We all want football; we hope that the egos and greed can be put aside for the betterment of the game. With the NFL lockout in place and no free agency the only thing to look forward to at the moment as Eagle phans is the NFL Draft that is still slated for April 28th and will go on as scheduled.
All I can say is get this thing settled, as much as the owners and players want a bigger piece of the cut how can you make any money with no football in 2011. This lockout is only going to ruin a sport at its ultimate peak, and completely lose a passionate fan base. With each looming day comes a closer realization to no football in 2011 and if that happens the game will never be the same. I still have confidence in both sides coming to an agreement and the lockout ending. Maybe that confidence is optimistically blinded but a man can hope can’t he?