Super Bowl XLIV: The NFL's Last Hurrah

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IFebruary 7, 2010

CINCINNATI - JANUARY 9:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stands on the sideline before the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl. That alone is high on the Armageddon list of many football pundits.

That fact by itself indicates to many that the End of Days are near. The Saints, the doormats of the NFL since the Summer of Love commenced, were never destined to be sixty minutes away from and NFL Championship.

But that moment IS upon us this morning, as is the looming destruction of America's greatest sports enterprise.

After the Saints and the Indianapolis Colts fill the South Florida sunset with footballs in Super Bowl XLIV this evening, and The Who loosens the rivets in the upper deck of Sun Life Stadium, the NFL will officially switch into their version of white collar trench warfare. It is another senseless war being fought over—what else—money.

The players and the owners will desperately try to mend their differences and avoid an uncapped season by producing a new collective bargaining agreement. If that does not happen by March, the entire paradigm of the league will be altered forever.

May I add that all powerful things come to an end, and they usually rot from the inside out. Great corporations have fractured due to unforeseen internal issues. From The Roman Empire to the Beatles, the most impenetrable of institutions have always been the cause of their own destruction.

The NFL is on the precipice of destruction. This moment. We all see it. So do they, but they cannot stop it. They cannot stop history, nor the physical momentum of their destiny.

The money, the pot of gold, is too great to concede. Each side wants their fair share in this business that approximately ensnares $8 billion annually in revenues.

Currently, the two sides are canyons apart on terms. The head of the player's union, DeMaurice Smith, who is is in his inaugural year as president, will undoubtedly seek to make his mark. He has already predicted a lockout in 2011 as imminent, calling it a "14 out of a possible 10."

Smith is attempting to preserve the players' 60 percent share of revenues. The owners are contending that figure is way too generous, which is the reason they chose not to continue their role in the CBA this year, which was their option.

The owners feel the salary cap has gotten too high. It rises in a bullish economy, but does not reset itself in bearish times. Right now, the cap is $128 million with a floor of $112 million.

Many teams have struggled just to reach the floor, some because their revenues are lower, while others strategically sign players whose collective salaries simply do not exceed that level.

So we here we are. The players will not concede any ground gained under their vaunted former president, the deceased Hall-of-Fame lineman Gene Upshaw.

The owners are standing their ground, claiming they need to be compensated for assuming all of the financial risks and burdens.

In the wake of this standoff, teams are scrambling into uncapped season mode. Many players who were due to become unrestricted free agents this off-season now find themselves in a quandary—restricted, meaning they are still rooted into the fabric of their current teams.

How will this affect the NFL? That remains to be seen. Will we see RFAs being traded for one another rather than being signed away at a cost of high draft choices? Maybe.

We may see some strange things over the next few weeks. No matter what, the NFL has ventured into uncharted waters and may not be able to navigate their way back to normalcy.

For the sake of the fans, I hope they can do the Un-American thing and not put finances in the way of progress. But then again, in a culture driven by greed, hope is only something that is bought or sold.

The NFL will have their big moment tonight, perhaps the last big moment in their history. They have always avoided the potholes since the days of Pete Rozelle. They have always found a way to make it work. 

That entailed decisions being made by fiscally responsible people, something this country suddenly has a shortage of. No one in this day and age is willing to take a pay cut for the betterment of the greater good. That's the first sign of destruction—selfishness.

Greed will kill the NFL, America's last bastion of hope. It can't be stopped. Get your popcorn ready...