Monday, August 22, 2011
But you already knew that.
Not to drag out the old "he said/they said" of the lockout, I must note the following things have all happened in the short time since the NFL got back into business this summer.
The league's most electric home-run back (not named Adrian Peterson) is mired in a holdout.
A sack monster for the Giants endured a similar standoff, before opting for knee surgery.
Carson Palmer is being forcibly retired by the cheapest man in the NFL, Mike Brown.
Ndamukong Suh has been fined $25,000 just for a hard tackle.
The commissioner invented a phony new power in the Terrelle Pryor case.
All that, and the union hurriedly agreed to HGH testing at the last minute. A concession that other pro unions wisely treat like a gold bargaining chip that should only be surrendered for something really special in return.
So what, exactly, did the players "win" this time? Not much, it seems.
Fundamental to the nature of the game, NFL careers are dangerous, violent, and short. While the contracts under which players play, are restrictive, non-guaranteed, and long.
The union did nothing to change this disadvantage.
The Titans Chris Johnson has put up spectacular numbers in his first 3 years as a pro. He's got two more years left on a late first round slotted rookie deal, and he wants more than just the $800,000 or so he's due this year. So he's holding out.
And apparently, getting nowhere.
Not take sides in this case in particular, because I know Johnson isn't exactly a litmus test of reasonable, but it's hard to not feel like NFL players are still under the worst compensation system in pro sports. When a Pro Bowl performer for his first three years in the league, has to hold his breath to get a decent SECOND contract, you know the owners must be laughing their assess off behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, scrub-forward Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers will make $7.7 million, $8.4 million, and $9.1 million GUARANTEED in the next three NBA seasons.
Varajao's athletic brilliance (and injuries, 31 games played last season) has given fewer people even a mildly elevated pulse watching him play, than a single scintillating dash-and-go-to-paydirt run by Johnson in the NFL.
Today it's Chris Johnson. Tomorrow, it might be Saints rookie RB Mark Ingram.
The current players had no problem throwing future rookies in the league under the bus, so they could claw back some of that rookie money and sprinkle it around to veterans. But today's rookies quickly become rank and file union members, who will be back in the same ridiculous situation.
What the NFL salary structure is asking Johnson (and others to do) is basically outperform the average lifespan of an entire NFL career, and then hopefully nail your statistical peak just before gaining un-restricted free agency.
Good luck with that.
Under the new rules of the CBA, a first round rookie MUST sign a 4 year contract with the team he was drafted by, and then the team has an exclusive option on a 5th year. If you somehow put up awesome numbers for all of those 5 years, then the team can extend you one more year with the franchise tag - which, while expensive, saves the team from committing to a long term even more expensive contract.
A much saner system would be similar to baseball, where young players are "under control" of their club for the first 5 years, but arbitration kicks in halfway through that period to prevent guys from being grossly underpaid. Or allow rookies to sign contracts of any length they want.
Players could have pushed for that. They didn't. The NFLPA is back to being the underpaid bitches of pro sports that they were before the lockout.
The players also did nothing to curb Kommissioner Goodell's powerlust. Or nothing to drive cheap, stupid, bastards like Mike Brown out of owning teams and ending careers. The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, but Brown runs his team like its his father's hardware store, counting every penny nail in a metal bin.
And so off we go to play some football, which I am sure all anyone cares about. I promised I had said my last word about all this stuff in my previous post which, if I recall, included a phrase "If they're happy, then I'm happy."
Well, I lied.
Now. Now, I'm done.