2011 NFL Lockout: Why the Collapse of the Lockout is Bad for Us All
It's hard to feel sorry for NFL team owners, their ill feelings towards the fairness of the previous CBA and its supposed favour of players over owners seems pretty petty from the vantage point of us common folk.
Yet in an attempt to reach some kind of "parity," NFL owners overreached lobbying for $2 billion extra in annual revenue, two extra games in a season and an overhaul of rookie salaries. They wanted a huge extra slice of the cake and it has backfired.
I was initially delighted when I heard that Judge Nelson had granted an injunction. As an Eagles fan I tired of waiting on what the future has in store for Kevin Kolb as well as potential free-agent targets such as Nnamdi Asomugha, and I searched through article after article to ascertain the likelihood that my wait might end prior to the draft.
This is a significant step forward towards having an NFL season next year and the possibility of free agency could happen sooner rather than later, as a person who exists in a consumer-driven society that drives us to wet our appetites and now, I am very excited.
It's when you weigh up the long-term consequences that the potential outcomes that arise from the fall of the lockout that things start to look a little bleak.
The No. 1 negative from not having a new CBA agreement is the potential of having no salary cap for the long-term. Yes, teams work just fine without one last year but most teams acted under the the impression that a new salary cap would be established during this offseason. L
ong-term loss of a salary cap will inevitably end with the establishment of a minority of elite teams becoming powerhouses in the league subjecting other teams to an eternity of failure. This may seem like a rather bleak prediction but you need look no further than the English Premier Football (soccer) league to see how the outcome of no salary cap.
Rich clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal have topped the league for the best part of twenty years. Only multi-billionaire takeovers of Chelsea by Roman Abramovich and Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan have added them to the list.
Without the restrictions that were in place in the NFL, like in the English Premier League the teams that have the higher spending power will come to dominate every year.
If you are one of the unlucky supports of a team that doesn't make the grade then you will have to be content with winning a "best of the rest scenario." Be prepared to watch as the players that blossom in your teams ranks quickly move on in search of glory and dividends provided by "powerhouses."
Being English and a life-long Aston Villa fan, I've experienced a couple of seasons of achieving best of the rest status. The rewards being: when Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry established himself in the England team (akin to being a pro-bowler for lack of any other comparison) he was quickly recruited by Manchester City.
When Aston Villa player James Milner accomplished the same feat, he too was recruited by Manchester City, and our other starlet Ashley Young is highly rumoured to be leaving at the end of this current season to join one of the top clubs.
Before long all we'll have to look forward to is the NFL draft. The draft system is a beautiful thing where hopes are rekindled after a poor season. Though according to Roger Goodell there's a danger of no draft either.
"Why should there even be a draft?" said player agent Brian Ayrault. "Players should be able to choose who they work for. Markets should determine the value of all contracts. Competitive balance is a fallacy."
Teams like the Detroit Lions are finally on the rise after having years worth of early choices in NFL drafts. Can you imagine how teams such as the Lions would fair if this would be the case? If you were Pactrick Peterson or Von Miller, would you even entertain the idea of signing for a team like Buffalo if you had the choice? The strong teams will only get stronger.
Once the NFL starts losing the competitive environment established where poor teams are somehow rewarded with an early pick in the draft, where does it go from there? Surely teams that invest higher amounts of money on players and facilities will no longer want to share revenue with teams unwilling or unable to match them.
Unfortunately, this is one of the drawbacks of a capitalist society, that they should be able to recoup the revenue that they generate. A fair point, but hardly the best outcome for us fans, especially when you consider that the NFL is just starting to break into the world market.
Personally, I couldn't care less if NFL owners see a dime of that $2 billion. I don't think an extra two games a season is fair or necessary (even if we do lose a couple of preseason games). Addressing that large rookie salaries that can often handcuff a team (when there is a salary cap in place) is understandable and maybe they should have focused on that instead of asking for the moon.
This may all be a bit of doom and gloom and is only a potential outcome. But I'm writing from a standpoint of an Aston Villa fan, one of the biggest clubs in England, yet unlikely to ever win the Premier League ever again. A CBA and most importantly a salary cap is highly important if this outcome is to be avoided.
Otherwise, it's a sprint for all the NFL teams to achieve elite status, with the current top teams holding an important head start and the biggest spenders holding all the other cards.
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