Is the NFL Heading in the Same Direction as the MLB in '94?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IFebruary 5, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Richard Seymour #92 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after making a tackle against the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 15, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I recently read an article about the state of the NFL, in which the leader of the NFL Players Union, DeMaurice Smith, predicted a lockout in 2010, in which no games would be played in 2011.

For those who don't know, a lockout is different from a strike.  A strike is when the employees refuse to work.  A lockout is when the employer refuses to let the employees work.

As I alluded in the the title, 2011 could be comparable to 1994 for the MLB, when the players went on strike and nearly destroyed the game, until of course, the juicers saved it in 1998.

In this case however, the finger just might be pointed at the owners instead of the players, because if a lockout occurs, it will be a decision made by the owners—not the players.

I'd rather not discuss the minutia of the he said/he said about finances and revenues in the NFL, but basically, the players believe that the NFL makes plenty of money, while the NFL claims that NFL revenues are not as high as the players think.

Yet, the NFL will have a nice golden goose of about 5 billion from the NFL Network, in the event of a lockout.  That's right.  The owners will make billions for not airing games. 

How do you like them apples?

Spygate Revisited

If a lockout does occur, I hope then that people will finally understand the importance of Spygate.  What people don't understand about Spygate is that the issue begged many questions about anti-trust.  Yet, Sen. Specter of Pennsylvania immediately dropped the issue, for no apparent reason in 2008.

As a Raider fan, people have tried many times to shoot the messenger when I cried foul in 2008.  I wrote an article "From Snowjob to Spygate," in which I questioned whether Roger Goodell destroyed the Spygate tapes in order to cover-up the Tuck Rule Game.

I did so because the Patriots stole signals in the 2001 postseason nduring games at Pittsburgh and at the Super Bowl against the Rams.  Yet, I'm supposed to believe that the Patriots would not steal signals against the Raiders at home in the Tuck Rule Game?

Uh, huh.

The primary defense of the Patriots is that no one could point to one pivotal play that affected the outcome of a game in question.  If my hypothesis is true - that the Goodell destroyed a Spygate tape that involved the Tuck Rule Game - then that defense would be false.

I had argued that the issue of whether it was a fumble is irrelevant.  It's a red herring.  It is more important however to see beyond the superficial.  The real question is: Did Bill Belichick know that Charles Woodson was coming on the blitz and thus told Tom Brady to take a hit on a pump fake to stop the clock (the Patriots had no timeouts and less than two minutes)?

The Patriots ran the same play after the Tuck Rule play, in which Brady took a hit on a pump fake to stop the clock after being hit by Tony Bryant.  I note that, because it is clear to me that it proves a pattern, in which Belichick was manufacturing timeouts, because the Patriots could not handle the blitz for most of that game, due to the lack of speed from the blockers.

Before that game, DT Grady Jackson even boasted that the Patriots are slow and that the Raiders would be able to do just about anything to them.  And for most of that game, the Raiders did just that.  Other than one drive, in which Brady "magically" orchestrated a nine play drive for a touchdown, the Patriots looked lost offensively.

Defensively, the Patriots weren't much better and struggled for much of the same.  Reporter Armen Kateyian would quote retrospectively ominous words by Bill Belichik, "We're not gonna change anything.  We're gonna do what we do.  We've won eleven games this season. 

"We're only down seven, nothing.  We're not gonna change anything right now.  We're gonna try and win this game with the way we've won all the others." 

And what "way" exactly would that be that Belichick so arrogantly believed in?  Announcer Phil Simms would suggest that “way” in a comment and quotation, "They feel like they've seen all the new plays from the Raider offense." 

"And Bill Belichick said it, and Romeo Crennel the defensive-coordinator, 'Once we can control that first onslaught of all their new plays and formations, then we can come out and attack.'"

What's the Connection?

The point of all this being that if the Tuck Rule Game had been amongst the Spygate games—which I believe it was—then the NFL owners would be embroiled in heated questions about anti-trust, and whether the NFL has turned into nothing more than the WWE.

Not only did Spygate have implications of consumer rights, but also implications of civil rights.  I say that because the punishment against the Patriots was relatively tame compared to what Commissioner Goodell has levied against predominantly black players, such as Pacman Jones.

Goodell levied a few fines and docked the Pats a first-round draft pick (31st overall), even though the Patriots also owned a top ten pick from the 49ers, which the Patriots used to trade down a collect another pick.

Players like Jones and Odell Thurman have lost their careers over off the field behavioral problems that had no direct effect on the integrity of the game.  The Patriots however lost a few paychecks and have proved that the NFL is a kangaroo game, in which the NFL tries to manufacture desired outcomes.

Of course, those schemes don't always succeed.  That though is why the NFL will use the "rulebook" to protect what NFL owners want.  And what NFL owners want, of course, tends to favor predominantly white players, as indicated by the Brady rule.

Until the Brady rule, the NFL had never made an exclusive rule to protect the success of one position.  The Mel Blount rule, which hindered the ability of defensive backs to stop the receiver, was not an exclusive rule to protect one position. 

It just happened to benefit the quarterback and usher in a generation of so-called great quarterbacks that have run-up the stats, as juicers would do in baseball later that decade.

In the Brady Rule however, the motives of the owners has oozed through: create exclusive rules to protect the job security of predominantly white players to the detriment of the job security of predominantly black defensive players.

For those of you who like statistics—that is a statistic.  There are more white starting quarterbacks in the NFL than black starting quarterbacks.  There are more black defensive players than white defensive players.

Whether these issues have proved that the NFL is racist is a different question.  Though I once made an incendiary claim about people in the media who have refused to question the NFL, I do not believe that the NFL is inherently racist.

I do however believe that the NFL has many undeniable race issues.  Issues that result largely from an unwillingness to communicate from suppressed malice or distrust of each other. 

And that has really been my motive from day one, in all my articles. 

To paraphrase Hall of Fame CB Ronnie Lott from "America's Game," I believe that some people won't listen, unless you berate them to get their attention, and that it is circumstantially justifiable to do so.

Many are unwilling to communicate because people arbitrarily decide that they are inherently different from others.  I think my most "radical" message is that people aren't much different than each other.

A Call to Action

I do believe the NFL fans don't take notice of what is going on and demand a change of course, that the NFL could go the same way as the MLB after 1994 with no telling as to whether the NFL will recover from a damaged reputation.

You see, the MLB erred in 1994 in thinking that fans will just keep coming back, no matter what.  Instead, the fans proved to the MLB owners that ticket buyers aren't a force of nature that is there for the taking. 

Fans are people to, and yet the sports industry—media included—treats fans like red-headed step children that are only necessary as cash-givers and as a stepping stone for some narcissist to an imaginary higher plane of the ego. 

But also as convenient punching bags for when someone in the industry doesn't get exactly what he or she wants, or does something detrimental to his or her image under the pressure of fame (i.e. Michael Phelps).

In recent months, critics have targeted Congress for addressing the issue of anti-trust within the BCS for college football, because there are greater issues to deal with, such as jobs.

I would say that the issues involved with the NFL, BCS and sports in general are in fact related to jobs, because all of which relate to the rights of employees and consumers, which is the root of the recent economic problems.

When a billion dollar industry can run roughshod over the rights of players like Pacman Jones, Odell Thurman, and others, that sets a bad example for many other employers who see employment laws, essentially as suggestions to circumvent.

As I've said before, it seems that sports have become less about inspiring the everyday person and more of a playground for the corrupt.

Thus, I would like to see fans start to contact their respective senators and demand an investigation of the NFL, into whether the NFL has violated anti-trust laws, or if the lockout and NFL Network will violate anti-trust laws.

I would also like to see NFL players stand up for what is right, such as former Patriot and current Raider, Richard Seymour.  Seymour had an icy relationship with the Patriots brass before he was abruptly traded to Oakland in 2009. 

If my earlier hypothesis is true and the Patriots did steal signals during the Tuck Rule Game, I would very much like to see Seymour come forward and expose the truth.

I realize that doing so would hurt Seymour's legacy as a player, but doing so would give the players union the trump card it needs to defeat the owners from stealing America's Game from the fans that have made them rich. 

But also for a little bit ofg justice for the players that have been run through the mud (Jones, Thuman, etc), while other players have been sheltered from the same treatment (i.e. Ben Roethlisberger).

For that, Seymour would have an indelible legacy in American history, not just the NFL  I don't believe that doing so would end the NFL as we know it, but force it to change course.  If it doesn't change, the NFL is likely on a collision course with no telling as to whether it will recover.


    Betting Odds on 1st NFL Coach to Be Fired

    Oakland Raiders logo
    Oakland Raiders

    Betting Odds on 1st NFL Coach to Be Fired

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: 44-Year Old T.O. on CFL's Teams' Negotiation List 👀

    NFL logo

    Report: 44-Year Old T.O. on CFL's Teams' Negotiation List 👀

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    LB Victor to Focus on Using Versatility as Rookie

    Oakland Raiders logo
    Oakland Raiders

    LB Victor to Focus on Using Versatility as Rookie

    Albert Gregory
    via Raiders Wire

    Report: NFL Invited to Congressional Hearing on Betting

    Oakland Raiders logo
    Oakland Raiders

    Report: NFL Invited to Congressional Hearing on Betting

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report