You've probably heard by now, but the NFL lockout has been "lifted." That is to say, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson has rejected the NFL's request to stay the lifting of the lockout. Players should be able to start working out and owners can start wheeling and dealing again. Right?
Wrong. The owners and the NFL are taking their court fight even further, hoping beyond hope that another judge will stay Judge Nelson's decision. Why won't they just let the players in? At this point it's a public relation game that the league and owners are slowly losing.
When the lockout first started, there wasn't really a general consensus among the paying customers—I'm sorry, fans—as to who was right and who was wrong. Fans couldn't decide who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.
The owners wanted 18 games and the players didn't (fans tended to side with the players). The owners wanted a rookie wage scale and the players didn't (there should be one in place). Players wanted better retirement benefits and the owners were content to bump them up a little bit (retired players should definitely have better coverage).
After imposing the lockout and fighting two court decisions though it's looking more and more like the players are the good guys and the league and owners are the bad guys. Not that we as paying customers—sorry again, fans—have any say in the matter. The owners are coming off as greedy and self-serving while the players are playing the "we just want to play like you want to watch us play" card.
Oh and, in case you forgot, the draft happens to be tonight. Supposedly a record number of players are slated to be on hand at the big event, blasting the notion on the part of the owners that they wouldn't show—the same owners who tried to convince young men from missing quite possibly one of the greatest nights of their lives in an effort to further splinter the players.
Sure, the draft is over hyped. Not every player drafted pans out and the excessive media coverage borders on inane. But if it's YOU who's worked your entire life at the craft of football and it's YOU who gets invited to a once in a lifetime event ,are you really going to say no? Just to be a pawn in a chess match between your future fraternity of brothers and your bosses? I didn't think so.
People want football. We want to know the games will start in September. We want to follow players in training camps for our fantasy drafts in August (earlier for some folks). We don't care about the bickering and the fighting. My message to the owners? Stop being petty. If you're serious about mediation make it work. Stop fighting this thing in courts.
To the players, owners and Roger Goodell: You all need each other. What you need more than anything else though is paying customers. Fans. People to pay the absurd PSL prices, DirectTV packages and general seating and parking admission prices. We're the ones paying you. Start paying us back by making this new CBA a reality. It's not even May. Let's get this done by June. I've got some scouting to do for my fantasy league.
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