This is not a rant, and I apologize if this article might seem all over the place but this article is rather a statement of principle regarding the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and several other issues that I have noticed a growing trend in the NFL these past few years, as it relates not to the players but to us as the fans (even the media members are fans of the game). Right now as I type this, NFL, NFLPA officials and representatives are sitting in a mediation room discussing how to split a total of 9 BILLION dollars in annual revenue between the players and the owners. This number has been flagrantly advertised in the media as a statement of pride at how lucrative the NFL has become among its competitors, but it poses the age old question of “when is enough actually enough?” and “when does too much become harmful?”
Even though I may understand both sides of the argument (I am sure by now I don’t need to explain it) that doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with either party. As a fan I find it insulting that a group of people can sit in their corporate offices and in their multi-million dollar mansions and complain about making $5 million a year instead of $6 million. How can they complain? when twenty-five percent of the state of California is currently unemployed and fifteen percent of the country is in the same position. A group of so called men think it is appropriate to ardently brag about the amount their corporation has achieved, while many of its fans are struggling to make ends meet and provide simple essentials for their family such as food, shelter and health care, AND THEN they file grievances when their employees (the players) demand for more pay. Again, I am not taking sides on this, so nor do I think it is appropriate for a bunch of twenty to thirty somethings to complain that they only are given six percent of the merchandise cut when the owner earns enough to boost the player’s cut to ten percent. I am going to pose a scenario here, Joe Smith works for a private advertising company (the NFL is not a public company) and has been there a year, when he started the company made $1 million in annual revenue, at the end of the year the company posted earnings of $3 million. The scenario is this, what makes Joe Smith think he has the right to go to the owner of the company and ask for a piece of that profit, since the OWNERS COMPANY, just made more money? As a matter of principle, he doesn’t have the right to do so. As a man he should possess the knowledge to accept that is business and that is how things are done in what we call “the real world.”
As I stated before this is a matter of principle, but whose principles are we referring to? The players? (Who on average are only 24 years old) the player who has never performed an honest day’s worth of hard labor in their life? (Training is not hard labor, the factory workers that make this country run perform hard labor, the men and women of our amazing armed forces perform hard labor, a stay at home mother performs hard labor) The player who came out of college and immediately started making six figures (a vast majority of them without a degree) and most of them coming from backgrounds that saw very little financial or parental stability? Or do we go with the Owner? The owner that for the most part doesn’t associate himself with the class that struggles to make ends meet, the owner that does very little work at the top and leaves it to appointed staff members who earn six figure salaries to take care of the team’s day to day front office activities. The owner who may own a team that represents one city or state while he has houses in five others and calls home in another region of the country entirely (Bud Adams).
The point here is that for the fans, principle is what we live by (if we are honest to ourselves) and it is what we hold onto when times get tough, it is one of few entities that define and even unite us not just as human beings but as one voice that collectively states that “we have had enough”. We have had enough of your flagrant boasts of committing crimes, time and time again only be let off the hook with a slap on the wrist because of your status in society. We have had enough of hearing about how rich you are, and the deals that you just made with another team, we have had enough of reading about how you’re “gnna make it rain n duh club 2night, ya heard dat”. Quite frankly I will never back the principles of a so called MAN who leaves two children at home with women he doesn’t know and then brags to his/her fans that he supposedly “loves” about how his life is soo amazing cause of the money that was just thrown his way and he has yet to achieve the age of 25.
Switching gears for a minute, I would like to share a recent conversation with a close friend of mine. I told him how I witnessed an elderly man chastising a younger man about how his jeans hanging down to his knees, his gold grill, dreadlocks and overall lack of respect for those around him (the younger man was bluntly making a drug deal on the phone on the bus) and how it was people like him that continued to bring down and feed into the stereotypes associated with his race. The older man went on further to tell him that the younger man probably wonders why he is the target when he acts and dresses as such but will probably be the first to complain of racism when something doesn’t go his way. Now, my friend who is of the same race ardently agreed and told me he truly wished he had been there to witness what I had seen, he then went on to tell me that figures such as rappers and sports figures dictate to inner city children, teenagers and even adults how they act and what they wear by the way they present themselves via social media, in the news when a scandal arises or they just signed a new deal. This is what is called “keeping it real.” Now, I am not here to determine what should change as how players act or present themselves and at first read this article could come off as naïve, jealous, or even that a white man will never understand the hardships of the ghetto and the amount of courage and conviction it takes overcome an environment like that. However you choose to look at it resides within you. But, if you are truly honest with yourself, you will see that the problems I have stated are becoming more and more flagrant in professional sports, it is becoming more and more of a problem in our youth who choose to follow the actions of “icons” or “idols” rather than heed the advice of parents or peers. As a coach and hopefully a future father it worries me, How do I coach and instill in my boys that honor, integrity, honesty and courage will be received and respected more then the sum of any check, how do I teach this when they are constantly shown a world that proves otherwise? This has become such a problem that people often forget that these are the very people who are currently sitting in a room in Washington, D.C. right now conducting business on how they deserve millions of more dollars than what they already make. These are the people that are trying to convince us that they are in the right for what they request of the owners and these are the people who are being empowered, by a business a filled with soo much greed that they don’t bother to consider the type of employee they are hiring (as far as character). They offer grossly large sums of money to a twenty something, fresh out of college, who quite possibly came from damn near nothing and you expect him to act like a saint. Maybe the NFL would have less problems if they bothered to hire someone that has a little bit more class then talent, someone that has a little bit more intelligence then hands, or maybe if a miracle occurs, someone that has a little bit more principle and morality then a faster 40 time.
People are often too quick to pass judgment on those that choose to present themselves in a proper manner (Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford, Donovan McNabb, Jammal Charles, Eddie George, to name a few of the many players that choose to do so) and throw them to the side as being weak for showing character. I will leave you with this thought, is it more courageous to be a person of morality in a world that is void of it?
It seems to me that the path the NFL is heading down is one that has allowed greed to consume itself to the very point of forgetting the very principles that is was founded on, the very morals, principles, ethics and gentlemanly composure that we teach to our young men in high school and college, but then tell them to forget those teachings once they enter the corporate policy. because hey “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”