Until recently, the NFL was on the verge of losing the support of a large faction of its fans.
While some of us are diving deep into the issues that separate the league and its players association and trying to understand both sides of the spectrum, the majority of fans simply don’t give a crap what’s delaying the regular offseason flow.
All that matters to them is that football is played.
The whole “billionaires vs. millionaires” phrase has become a tired cliché, but it accurately relays how most fans feel.
This is what the layman knows: the NFL and NFLPA make about $9 billion annually. Rookies are paid too much, former players are paid too little and an 18-game season is plaguing the entire process.
This is what the layman wants: the NFL and the NFLPA to agree that they’re all filthy rich and agree not to attempt to fix what ain’t broke.
It looks as though that’s essentially what’s going to happen now, but it took until the eleventh hour for the league to budge on its over-the-top demands.
Until now, it was almost impossible to take the side of the owners. All 31 of them are already set for life financially, so you’d think they’d do what’s better for the game and give up on an extended regular season (something that will result in more injuries and a watered-down product) and give up on their attempt to regain a bigger chunk of annual revenues. But no, they stubbornly pushed for more while the NFLPA continued to simply request the status quo.
The owners wanted nothing to do with the status quo. Even though it was the status quo that made the NFL the most lucrative professional sports league on the planet.
No, the owners wanted more money for more stadiums, something they claimed they “needed.” Don’t tell that to the people in Green Bay — Lambeau Field is holding up just fine. At the age of 53, Lambeau is still somehow one of the best venues in American sports.
The owners know that newer, bigger, shinier stadiums will make them money, and it’s because they aren’t the dudes in charge of paying for them. You the taxpayers are. And a large chunk of what the public doesn’t fund is supposed to be covered by the players? How exactly would Aaron Rodgers benefit from the Packers playing in a state-of-the-are facility instead of Lambeau?
It’s business, yes. But it’s greed, too.
The league made the mistake of signing a bad deal in 2006, and now they feel as though things should be realigned. But that’s not necessarily how these things work. Sometimes, when you make a mistake, you have to live with it forever.
The NFL’s owners want their league to get bigger, but it’s already the biggest. Fighting this battle isn’t worth the risk of losing fans and public favour.
It looks as though Roger Goodell and his peers are finally beginning to realize this.