NFL commissioner Roger Goddell has issued an editorial today in the Wall Street Journal, in the wake of Judge Nelson’s ruling to halt the lockout in favor of the players. I’m almost certain Paddy will cover the ins and outs of this tomorrow, so I’ll drop my two cents in and be done with it.
Having lost in court, Goddell takes a last stab at mitigating the gigantic leverage he and the owners have just bestowed on the players by trying to earn some public backing for their cause. In whoring for public support, he predictably paints the NFLPA’s position in the extreme: the league the players want will turn into a draft-less, parity-less, free market orgy where the richest teams and flashiest players will control everything, win everything, and earn everything, leaving the scraps for the rest of the league:
- [There would be] no draft.
- No minimum team payroll.
- No minimum player salary.
- No standard guarantee to compensate players who suffer season- or career-ending injuries.
- No league-wide agreements on benefits.
- No limits on free agency.
- No league-wide rule limiting the length of training camp or required off-season workout obligations.
In other words, everything the great league that we know now today is not.
While this is an effective ploy by Goddell, perhaps, to create fear among a fanbase that loves the league as it currently operates, it also begs the question that deflates the owners’ entire cause:
If all of these are desireable characteristics of the league, why did they opt out of the CBA that had them in place to begin with?
Goddell’s and the owners’ answer to that is, I’m afraid, drastically less fan friendly. They saw an opening to make marginally more money at the expense of the players in a league where everybody is already making billions, and decided to put the entire nature of the league on the line in an effort to do so.
I’d typically be less cynical, but the owners did, after all, deny to open their books to prove that the current CBA was unsustainable, a move that none of the other major American sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NHL) have elected to do in resolving their labor disputes. It’s an open and shut case of bad faith, which burns up any iota of good will they deserve from the public.