The Players vs The Owners

I got into this topic the last time our blog delved into the lockout blame game, but I am firmly in the middle.  I think both sides are wrong, and both sides have legitimate problems, but I maintain the players will lose. 


From the outset, the players have been hoping they could decertify and take it to those evil owners who pay them millions to play a game many of us would give up our day jobs to do for free.  The owners haven’t forgotten why they got into this: power, fame, and money.  The players have long since forgotten why they started in PeeWee.  This paradigm will forever influence how the majority of the public feels about labor disputes.  Most of us could never imagine being owners of a professional sports team (heck a President owned the Rangers), but I would bet that every person who actively follows professional sports has had a dream where they were hoisting the Stanley Cup or hitting a walk-off home in game 7 of the World Series.  We will inevitably stop caring if the owners get a better deal, because in the end, all we want is football, and we all know the players do not stand to lose as much as they would make you think.


“The NFLPA’s rhetoric in the months leading up to this spring’s work stoppage never matched the issues. Nothing was serious enough to warrant a shutdown. Nobody will ache for the rookies who won’t get $40 million guaranteed in whatever new deal emerges, while the splitting of $1 billion in a league that has made so many rich is hardly a horrible problem to have. And yet the leaders of the players union were dying to decertify as far back as 2008, apparently screening executive director candidates on their willingness to push the nuclear option.”


And this is where the players stand:


“For all of his shouting and table pounding and proclamations that the NFL Players Association “went to the mattresses” with the NFL, here is where DeMaurice Smith has his decertified union two months into the lockout: about to argue a case it will probably not win in a labor battle his constituents will soon tire of fighting.”


It became more important for the players to win totally – and to be seen as the victims – than it did for them to come to a compromise and do what was best for the league, and the fans.  This is when the players lost me in this fight.


“Still, to scream at the owners while ignoring the NFLPA leaders’ behavior in the sandbox is misguided, for the NFLPA pushed this drive to the cliff in the final days of civility. Back when Judge David Doty ruled the NFL couldn’t collect its lockout stash from the television networks, the players were gaining momentum. They got the owners to bend. The owners even agreed to show parts of their books. It wasn’t everything, but it was something more than they offered before – a real sign of progress – only to have the players reject the attempt.


One source with knowledge of the negotiations said the message delivered by the players’ leadership was that the show of demanding the owners’ books had become too valuable a PR move to give up. Then, after threatening to blow up the talks with decertification and lawsuits, they did just that – leaving many to wonder if this is what they wanted to do all along.”


Part of the argument I got into was that it was silly for the players to decertify.  I believed (and still do) that the players had a much better chance at the negotiating table than risking this before the courts.


“Decertifying and getting the courts to rule the lockout illegal was always a long shot. The Eighth Circuit loomed with a history of favoring business in labor matters. Yes, the union won free agency in a similar fashion in the early 1990s. It became a big part of the narrative of the NFLPA’s previous leader, Gene Upshaw, who often spoke fondly of those days. What wasn’t peddled nearly as well was a very real risk that the court option would slam into a wall, cornering the players and leaving them with nowhere else to turn.


‘Look at it this way: If the union loses a decertification lawsuit, then it has gone and shot everything it has,” said Michael Cramer, director of the University of Texas Sports and Media program, who went through labor disputes in baseball and hockey. “You drew a 13 at the blackjack table and now you’ve got to go back to the negotiating table with nothing. Who would have bet they’d win a decertification lawsuit? You just don’t do it.’”


The players were foolish to take this path.  They never stood a real chance, and regardless of how good their lawyers might be, the NFL has better ones.  The owners will always have the upper hand over the players.  If you asked the general fan to pick between their favorite player and their favorite team, the team would always win (unless you are a Raiders fan).  The team will be there forging a new dynasty long after this player has lost his hair and started rambling on the Fox Pregame Show.  The team will be able to unite a city and bring hope to a town that has seen its lifeline close, and half its populace move across the country scratching for job leads.  The team will maintain the owners who go on to become U.S. Ambassadors, and who we all openly wish were our long-lost uncles.  The team will have the uniform and the stadium we get chills every time we put on.  The players will be remembered when they are enshrined in Canton.  We will talk about how great they were and the next day forget them and return to talking about the new season and how our shinny new draft toys will earn their helmets in the pre-season. 


This is why the owners will eventually win.  And if you are honest with yourself, come kick-off on Opening Day, you won’t care at all.


Article from Yahoo! writer Les Carpenter:;_ylt=Auc3a13XjPRcJRyqiMY7lRhDubYF?slug=lc-carpenter_decertification_strategy_was_bad_move_for_union_052511

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