Riddle me this; riddle me that: what is worse than a game without a bat? The answer is perhaps a game without players. That is the ugly prospect in the National Football League labor dispute with its players, and things took a decidedly ominous turn today when the NFL Players Association made the decision to decertify as a union.
Football fans everywhere may be asking why did they do this, but it makes perfect sense since their negotiations with the NFL are going nowhere. Since a lockout was no doubt imminent, the NFLPA’s choice makes sense because of this: if they are not a union then they can sue the NFL in federal court under antitrust laws.
The prospect of this getting resolved any time soon seems unlikely. The NFL can counter sue the NFLPA in some way, probably noting that the decertification process was only meant to set up this possibility of suing before the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) expired. Either way there looks like no end is in sight and that’s not good news for the players or the fans.
NFLPA Executive Direct DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have been involved in negotiations that have been going nowhere. What is the problem, you may ask? The answer is 750 million of them (dollars, of course). That was the gap between what the players wanted and the owners refused to give.
As it seems this thing could take months to be worked out in the courts, the worry here is that it will jeopardize training camps and even the start of the season. What doesn’t make sense is why either side would want to ruin the good thing that they have going here.
Of all American sports, football has to be the most lucrative one in the nation. The amount of money generated by games, merchandising, and advertising is overwhelmingly more substantial than from any other sport. The grandaddy of all championships is the Super Bowl, a marketing and entertainment juggernaut that is second to none.
So why are these guys spoiling a good thing? The answer is that the owners like their huge piece of the pie and don’t want to share; they also don’t want to disclose the ingredients or the baking process. Will the lawsuit force the lords and ladies of football to pry open the castle vault doors and reveal all the secrets to the recipe? Maybe, or perhaps they will come to an understanding, learn to play nice and share more, and this whole thing will just go away.
At least that’s what I’m hoping for. As a Jets fan, I don’t want my team distracted in any way by all this. Let’s hope this will move things forward and get something resolved soon, or otherwise we’ll be looking at them playing the Super Bowl around Easter next year.
Photo Credit: AP