Football fans are quickly growing weary of both the constant lockout talk, and the news that’s normally non-news in our NFL starved news cycle (I’d like to write the word “news” three more times: news, news, news). I base this primarily on the fact that I’m growing tired of writing posts that fall under both categories.
That same bone dry news cycle is at least in part why Reggie Bush’s tweets earlier this week received so much attention. Bush told his 1.7 million followers and by extension the entire Internet that he’s been enjoying his extended summer break provided by the lockout. Frolicking in the sand with a Cuban model will have that effect.
With the Internet trolls sufficiently stirred and profanity being hurled in his direction, Bush said he was joking moments later. Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson addressed Bush’s tweets on the Twitter today, and no one should be surprised that a man who blamed God after dropping a pass was candid with his comments.
Give us the gospel of Johnson, NFL.com:
“There is not one NFL player who hasn’t enjoyed (time off during) the lockout. I’m just being straight up honest. I don’t think [Bush] should have to apologize for that. That’s terrible to even have to apologize for saying that. I’m having a good time during this lockout enjoying my family more and (getting new opportunities).”
Johnson also said that while players are still clearly passionate about football and focused on their craft, there’s no harm in enjoying a little R&R with serious pigskin out of sight for the foreseeable future. He’s absolutely right, and so is Bush. But that doesn’t mean they should have opened their mouths.
The outrage over rich, young athletes actually enjoying life away from the sport that entertains us on Sundays every fall and winter is both ridiculous, and justified. Don’t follow? Good, because in this mess of an offseason the color gray is far more popular than black and white.
There is admittedly an element of hypocrisy involved in a blog telling any athlete to relay a bland PR comment, but that’s exactly what Johnson should have done, and Bush shouldn’t have clicked the tweet button at all. Enjoying time off is fine, perfectly normal, and human. But this isn’t a normal offseason, which means enjoyment of the quiet, non-public variety is in the best interests of the players’ and their leverage against the league.
We’re now into Day 62 of the lockout, and the players’ battle to have the lockout lifted and go back to some shred of normalcy continues. What players like Bush and Johnson either don’t understand or choose to ignore is that this is a battle in the court of public opinion as much as it’s a fight in the actual courts that aren’t imaginary.
Fans can’t fathom living the life of an NFL player, and each comment about enjoying a period of time in which a work layoff is ongoing and a paycheck hasn’t landed in the mailbox in over two months only drives that wedge further. The average person can’t comprehend being laid off and told by their boss to stay away from work, and then enjoying some glorious free time. That isn’t normal.
The league has already used comments from Wes Welker and Ray Lewis as evidence that the players aren’t being as irreparably harmed by the lockout as they claim. Legally, the players can argue their futures are being improperly hindered until their faces turn several shades of blue. But it’s becoming hard to see how can they do it with a straight face when publicly and loudly, so many are enjoying their offseason free of football.