I feel like Joe Namath to Suzy Kolber, drunk and giddy: "I want to kiss you! Yeeaaaggghhhh!!"
But now the league's red-headed spokesape, took to his computer to write a boo-hoo op/ed to the Wall Street Journal, about what awful things will come to the NFL if the players are allowed to "win" this dispute.
If this is the best response the owners have, they are in really deep trouble!
My friend and sports/anti-trust maven Skip Oliva has an excellent post here, deconstructing and destroying Roger's "argument" point by point.
You should read it all, but in case you are too lazy, let me pull quote the money part of it:
But there’s an even more direct argument against Goodell’s “we can’t let the players be free agents” mantra: If a decentralized labor system is unacceptable when it comes to playing talent, why is it acceptable when it comes to managerial talent? After all, coaches, general managers, scouts, and all other non-player personnel aren’t subject to the rigors of a government-sponsored union contract. Teams are generally free to hire and promote managerial talent as they see fit. Yet we don’t hear any complaining from Goodell about out-of-control spending on general managers or offensive coordinators. Dan Snyder can hire five coaches in ten years — often at record salaries — but somehow it’s inconceivable that a backup right tackle could negotiate his own contract without strictly adhering to a 300 page labor agreement negotiated by a union he may never have consented to join.
And that’s really what Roger Goodell really cares about — that labor agreement. He values rules and regulations more than anything else. It’s what justified the existence of the commissioner’s office in the first place. Clearly, Goodell contributes nothing to the product of professional football; all the evidence of Goodell’s tenure suggests just the opposite. And as much as Goodell gripes about the players resorting to litigation over negotiation, the truth is that nobody benefits more from the government’s involvement in the NFL — be it through labor or antitrust law — as the “commissioner of the National Football League.” He holds a quasi-governmental title for a reason.
Amen to all of that!
What would be finally nice for this league, is to forcibly washout old line, mom-n-pop graybeard owners like the Wilsons, Browns, and Bidwells (among others) who use the lucrative TV contract, strict salary cap, and college entry draft to maintain a FACADE of being competitive, when in fact they are doing very little to actually COMPETE with better run clubs - either financially, or through deft management and proper hiring of top level administrative talent (i.e. coaches, scouts, GMs etc...)
The net-net of what Roger is saying, is that the players are on the verge of ruining a very good system, that has rocketed the league's growth and made everyone rich.
To which one has to ask: "Yeah, dummy. So why did your owners decide to kick the legs out from under it in the first place?"
At this point, I'd love to see the players go for the whole enchilada. Assuming they win the appeal of the lockout being lifted, they will get to play a 2011 season under last year's rules (still quite good for players) while continuing their suit against the league in Brady v. NFL.
If they win that, then the players can try out a few years of "wild west" football, where college players do their own deals with teams, the stars like Brady and Manning find out they are actually worth $40 million a year, not just $20 million, and most of the rank of file players realize the "protections" of the old system weren't really much "protection" after all.
If this new system isn't working after 2 years, then guess what? They can always vote to re-form as a union.
This way, the Mike Browns would be in deep water, and likely would opt to sell their franchises (Get out now, while the getting is good!). And so what if another rich Russian like Mikhail Prokhorof buys the Bengals?
I bet there are many rich dudes who would gladly LOSE up to $100 million a year on a genuine NFL franchise, just for the glory of being good, and making the Super Bowl. Or, at least he would try.
Mike Brown isn't going to do that. He's counting what money is going to go to his great-great-great-nephews someday.
Bengal fans: #winning! Free agent players: #winning! NFL as a league: #doingjustfinethanks!