Can't we all just get along?
Seriously NFL? Really?
Let me start by saying the NFL is by far my favorite sport. Thanks to the year-round activities that a fan can occupy his or herself with (free agency, draft, mini-camps, OTAs, etc.), I have discarded most of my enthusiasm for MLB and the NBA as two other sports I grew up watching plenty of.
So here we sit in 2011 with the NFL on the brink of their first interrupted season in over 20 years.
And their timing couldn't be worse, in my opinion.
The NFL is the No. 1 sport across America when considering popularity, attendance and revenue.
Not only are they toying with the "don't mess with a good thing" approach, but current events around the country and world make it increasingly difficult to have an ounce of sympathy for either side in this conflict.
The NFL is playing public relations roulette against the backdrop of a national debate over union rights of the middle-class, more layoffs and reduced wages where many people will be losing their bargaining rights. They aren't debating over who gets a "billion off the top" like the NFL is.
None more so than in Wisconsin, home of the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers and my home state, where labor rights have been center stage for the last 30 days with daily protests in the state's capital.
We are not here to debate the merit of those issues, but simply to juxtapose those circumstances against an entity where six-figure salaries are the minimum and your boss is a billionaire and they still cannot find some common ground.
Let's look around the world for a minute. Unrest in the middle east region of the world has led to skyrocketing gas prices across the United States, dealing another blow to discretionary income for the average person.
A devastating earthquake in Japan has left countless people homeless, injured and deceased while nuclear reactors threaten even more people. The aftermath of such devastation will take years to recover from, not to mention countless dollars to repair.
Locally, the United States economy is still in recovery mode from the financial collapse a few years back and many Americans are simply jobless and struggling to make a good life for their families.
Meanwhile, the popularity of the NFL has insulated their industry from feeling much or any harm from these global events.
I understand that the issues facing NFL players and owners are important to them and they have every right to do what is necessary to further their causes respectively. I just can't believe it has gone this far.
When I see either owners or union reps or players talking in front of a microphone explaining their position, I cannot help but change the channel. When I see headlines providing updates on the NFL labor situation, I move along.
Will A Work Stoppage Affect Your NFL Loyalty?
It's difficult for this NFL fan to pay any attention to what these high-paid athletes and billionaires are arguing about. Just let me know when you millionaires and billionaires finally kiss your wallets and make up.
I know, I know. Not ALL players make millions. But the average NFL career is about 3.5 years and their minimum salary for such a job is about $300,000. Some simple math tells me that an average career for one of your least compensated players can still result in about $1,000,000 in income.
Show me where it becomes the job of the NFL to ensure lifetime financial security simply because you managed to have a cup of coffee with an NFL team.
This follows the fact that the vast majority of these players were given college scholarships entitling them to a free education, which should provide them a degree and the tools to have a productive career following the NFL.
Meanwhile, college tuition is on the rise for your average student, making it increasingly difficult to afford college for even the best students should they not be terribly gifted athletically.
If college football players working their way towards the NFL do not take advantage of such advantages, whose fault is that?
On the other hand, you have owners who have seen the value of their franchises increase tremendously in recent years as NFL popularity has risen. Meanwhile, nobody really knows how much money they make or lose by being an NFL owner.
Which Side Are You On?
And if things were really so challenging, those owners could sell their franchises and, in many cases, I'm sure turn quite a nice profit and then free themselves of the burden of owning an NFL team.
Considering Jerry Jones invested over one billion dollars on a new stadium in Dallas in the face of such difficult economic times, something tells me they too are doing OK for the most part.
So here we sit, with owners and players alike having the nerve to plead their respective cases in the court of public opinion with all these critical issues our world and, more specifically, our country is facing.
If they somehow manage to interrupt the normal flow of an NFL season by bickering over who gets the bigger slices of the multi-billion dollar pie, NFL fans must make themselves heard somehow, some way.
They already force their most loyal fans to purchase meaningless preseason games with second rate players at the same cost of a regular season game. I'm sure GM would be happy to charge you for a Cadillac and deliver you a Chevy, but consumers wouldn't stand for that.
Ticket prices have gone up tremendously in the last 20 years as demand and popularity have increased squeezing out more and more "regular folks" from being able to enjoy a live NFL game with their families.
We suffer ridiculous prices at concession stands where they won't allow you to carry in water on a hot day, forcing you to pay upwards of three to four dollars per bottle of water at a stadium.
Fine—bicker all you want. It's your right. But please, folks, turn off your cameras. Turn off your television. Don't give these guys your precious time and energy when there are so many more important things to pay attention to.
And finally, in a similar vein, can someone please get Charlie Sheen and his daily rants off my television while we are at it. Why is a rambling, drugged out celebrity commanding so much of our media attention when I'm sure there are thousands of more worthy news stories out there?
Sheen hasn't been relevant since the 80s if you ask me, but he seems to be everywhere nowadays.
With that being said, carry on NFL. And chances are your loyal fans will forgive and forget.
But hopefully somehow, somewhere, we can make you feel at least a pinch of misery that many of us are facing daily in our lives, where we look to the NFL to be a pleasant distraction from these important issues people around the world are facing.
Cue the world's smallest violin playing a tune for the NFL players and owners.