They may have to wait for quite a while to see their heroes take on the Steelers, or any other team for that matter.
With a player lockout looming in March, the 2011 season may be in doubt and players are being told to be prepared for a long work stoppage – save their money.
Interestingly enough, players are appealing to the fans to put pressure on the owners to negotiate but there’s a class envy element present in this dispute which you normally don’t see in a typical strike – in this instance you have millionaires taking on billionaires (even rookies who play a full season are assured a minimum salary of $325,000, with longtime veterans grossing at least $860,000 a year.) Nor do they seem to have a receptive audience in Washington.
Yes, it can be argued that the career span of an NFL player is relatively short, as most players wash out of the league in five years or less. One key aspect of the dispute is the owners’ desire to extend the regular season to 18 games by cutting the final two exhibition games – players contend they’ll run an even larger risk of serious injuries by extending the season. (This doesn’t count the numerous minor injuries they suffer during a season, like twisting their ankles or pulling muscles.) NFL players tend to have a shorter life expectancy than society at-large because of the abuse their bodies take.
But there is a conscious choice being made by these men, who generally have the opportunity to have their college education paid for thanks to their athletic ability. Many NFL alumni have taken advantage of their education and name recognition to build successful second careers after their playing days, but others cannot for various reasons.
As far as I’m concerned, the dispute can push the season back to open around the first of November, just in time for the conclusion of the World Series. My suspicion is that we’ll see the advent of the 18-game season by 2014 after the current four-year scheduling cycle ends and in return the players will keep the same percentage of revenue they currently receive. Maybe the post-career health insurance package will be sweetened as well.
It’s not unprecedented for an entire season to be wiped out, as the NHL lost the 2004-05 season to a labor dispute. Major League Baseball has lost portions of several seasons due to player strikes, with the 1994 season ending early and no champion crowned. The NFL lost a large portion of the 1982 season due to a strike and used ‘scab’ players for a few weeks during the 1987 season.
So Baltimore fans, you can just hope the Orioles have a good season because you may not have the Ravens to talk about this fall.