Mark this down. Indelible ink. Non-soluble paint. In stone.
Owners in the National Football League have won their battle with the players over a new contract. Before the first real shot has been fired, this game is over.
There will be an NFL season in 2011. You, the fans, will not want for one single game. While there remains a very strong possibility your team uniforms will not cover the players you're use to, there will be real, live players inside those jerseys.
With the convincing solidarity, leadership and maturity Players Association membership has been exhibiting, that loud sound you're likely to hear prior to 2011 training camps is the players willingly caving in. After once again, predictably, being humiliated at the bargaining
table and told what they will accept.
Not what they want. Not what they are convinced they deserve. Not what their managers and PR flacks whisper to them they are worth. And not what they believe being the focus of fans affections will put in their bank accounts.
Certainly the owners won't be inflicting work camp conditions on their players. They are, after all, the profit-grinding gears of their money making machines. Without star players, ticket prices can't be raised. Cities and taxpayers can't be fooled into handing over gobs of cash to build stadiums while basic social services like roads and education go wanting. TV network contracts will start shrinking. Replica jerseys with names better suited for a phone book won't be sweeping out of the gift shops.
But those who write the checks are heading for the Super Bowl confident they are in complete control of every single player on that field. There may be a few who possess the leadership and cajones to bring some of the more motley crew members along with them. Not enough.
To win at any competition, and make no mistake that's exactly what the CBA discussions have been and will always be about, you have to lock minds, arms and ideals. You have to have cohesiveness. Togetherness. Have the other guy's back. Teamwork. Solidarity.
This era of professional players, just like their predecessors, have just enough snakes in the rank-and-file grass to insure they'll get their collective bargaining heads lopped off yet again.
In 1987, players were still feeling the sting from five years earlier, when 5 weeks of the NFL season was canceled because of the first modern day war between football employer and employee. A new collective bargaining agreement was reached, but both sides knew when that five year deal was up, the wounds were going to ripen and open all over again. The acrimony of those lost weeks just intensified in the march to 1987.
September 22 was the day both NFL and NFLPA changed forever. The players walked. Replacement games stocked with incredibly low-grade players followed. Ownership knew what they had in their favor. Power. Money. The television network contracts. Stadium ownership in many forms. Time.
Sure, they pouted and stayed away for a time. Angry about having to watch third and fourth string performers slug their way through some of the most embarrassing football seen since players wore leather hats and tweaked their handlebar moustaches to show disapproval with the officials. But they came back. In record numbers.
When a number of veteran players broke ranks and showed up for work, the Players Association and their cause was doomed.
Fast forward to 1993, when all was roses and chocolates for both owners and players. The two sides smiled, shook hands, announced they were finally working together and labor peace was insured from that moment forth until the universe imploded upon itself and took the last helmet fiber with it down the black hole.
A mere eight years later, and we're right back to where it all began in 1987.
The one thing that is different has already insured the players will once again bow their heads and take what they are given.
Players who are more arrogant and selfish than they ever were before.
Antonio Cromartie is now the prime example of why the players have absolutely no shot at gaining the concessions they claim to deserve. And perhaps, why the bulk of them really deserve nothing more than they have, and perhaps even a little less. Might actually make them understand what the word "humility" means.
Cromartie is gutter-mouthed, infantile, arrogant loudmouth who has a desperate narcissistic need to be recognized and be the center of attention. His profanity-laced tirade against New England QB Tom Brady prior to their playoff game was celebrated by fellow gutter-dwellers as being "great trash talk" and "exactly what the Jets need". His recent "tweeting" battle with Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck over comments about the CBA negotiations were also piled high with insults, threats, and language often used by those who have a vocabulary of a stone.
There are already those screaming at this statement that he is only one man, one lone verbal complainer and the negotiations. That would be incorrect. Cromartie is endemic of what could be hundreds of NFL veterans who snap at the mention they are overpaid, despite figures showing the average salary in these economic rough times is over three-quarters of a million dollars. The average signing bonus is will in excess of the one million dollar mark.
Let us all pause a moment and feel the pain of these legal "slaves", as intoned by the poster child of insulting jock, Albert Haynesworth. $32M for one season's worth of work will make anyone feel as if they have a yoke placed around their neck while being sent to the fields.
The players have some legitimate complaints. The owners call for an 18 game season is little more than blatant and palpable greed. It will shorten the careers of players already pounding their limbs into arthritic dust from July to January. Thankfully, there are more than a few owners who see this as the immense folly it would be.
However, there is almost $400M in weekly revenue that will be lost if the 2011 season is indeed interrupted. That's money a solid portion of which will go directly into the players already deepening pockets.
There are too many greedy and entitled players already mouthing off with the right words fed to them by their dedicated Union reps. When the microphones are turned off, there are far too many of these players swearing they are not about to lose another paycheck for their 5th car, 3rd house, 18th bling collection, 7th failed investment, latest illegal enterprise, newest paternity suit, or current legal team preparing to bail them out from their own addictions.
To the players, you are indeed an integral part of the #1 sport in America. We flock to see you perform. We revel in your exploits. You provide us with a few hours of the most incredible, tension filled excitement many of us will ever experience.
But don't ever expect us to feel sorry for you when it comes to any contract negotiation over money.
The selfish and crude actions of your teammates, and the inability to show us it's more about concern for the game than for your wallets, have sealed that decision.