If Ravens fans weren’t already bummed…

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.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

3 thoughts on “If Ravens fans weren’t already bummed…”

  1. Michael,

    No offense, but this is really an oversimplification of the financial issues. The financial breakout works this way:

    Right off the top of all revenues to the league comes $1 billion FOR THE LEAGUE. After that, revenues are split 60/40 (in favor of the players) . The owners want to reverse that, not modify it, which amounts to another $1 billion in revenues to the league and the owners.

    The underlying issue here is not the 18-game season, it is revenue sharing. Large market owners like the Maras (Giants), Woody Johnson (Jets), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), San Franciso (York family), Washington (Dannyboy Snyder) and so on have grown weary of a revenue sharing split with smaller market teams like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Carolina, etc.

    Oddly enough, it was the revenue sharing that came about because of Art Modell’s work with the first Television contracts that has made the NFL the #1 sport in America (NASCAR is the #1 spectator sport, but the NFL owns the money game) and has created the parity that makes the league the envy of MLB.

    Simply put, big-market owners want to change the mix. But there are more small-market owners in the NFL (and more smart owners,too) than big-market owners.

    So where do they get the money?

    From the players.

    As for “it can be argued”, no it can’t. The average career of an NFL player is 3.5 years. Some of that has to do with talent that doesn’t pan out (Jamarcus Russell comes to mind, any Browns #1 pick as well). But a lot of that has to do with injury.

    Furthermore, it has been found that every year a player keeps playing reduces their lifespan by 8 months on average. Yes, there are exceptions.

    One thing everyone should keep in mind: no one buys tickets, or apparel, or spends a Sunday afternoon to watch assholes like Jerry Jones on the sideline, or listen to Rex Ryan foot fetish videos. That money is generated by the people on the field — the players.

    The lockout is not coming about because the players want more. This isn’t 1987 where the issues loomed much larger (no free agency, no guaranteed money at all, no league-reviewed contracts). The players have stated time and again that they are perfectly happy with the current CBA and would have liked to extend it.

    Its the owners — nearly all of whom play run their businesses in publicly-financed buildings (even training centers are often publicly funded) and thus have very little capital investment to pay (Jerry Jones is an exception here) — who are going for the big grab here.

  2. I’m not going to dispute your argument, but since it’s the owners who assumed the risk of buying the teams they should be allowed to prosper a little too. And as I said players make a conscious decision to risk their lives each Sunday out there. Every couple years you see someone paralyzed by a hit and there has been at least one onfield death in the NFL. It’s certainly not out of the question we may see another one.

    One could rightly argue, though, that people identify more with teams than the players themselves. You may own a Joe Flacco jersey but next year there may be a new guy wearing #5 and Flacco may be on the opponent’s sideline. Yesterday’s foe may be tomorrow’s hero to you.

    Having said that, though, while I can’t fault owners for getting the best possible deal on sports facilities that was a mistake made by state and local governments across the country.

    If there’s a lockout, there’s a lockout. It’s not like people can’t get a football fix in this country between college and the United Football League. A lockout may be the best thing that ever happened to them.

  3. All you have to do is look just past the Washington Monument to see why this whole NFL calliope {and the NBA//NHL will likely be next} just had to crash to the ground. You have a bloody idiot, Daniel Snyder, who is like that cat in your fantasy football league that every year thinks he is infinitely smarter than you. Then you find out he has given $100 million to Haynesworth, un-neccesary money to McNabb just to use him as THIRD STRING and in the process of publicly humiliating/screwing McNabb, have guarenteed that even if football resumes, no “chic” draft picks or free agents are ever going to play for you because your word IS NOT your bond {this is also how the Orioles became a dumping ground for other team’s under-achieving/overpaid trash}.

    A lock out may be good for a reality check for the team owners, and ultimately it will be the fans that will get a little more respect when games resume{MLB had to shine a lot of PR knobs, and unfortunately, turn a blind eye to steroid proliferation in search of the long ball to get paying behinds back into seats}. The NFL only stands to screw itself if it loses the first 6-8 games because the weather will still be good and people can, and will, find other things to do on a Sunday//Monday night.

    BTW…If you are thinking I am a guy who will shed a tear for Jerry Jones…well, let’s say I ain’t that guy. After spending so much money on his ego/stadium/non-play-off players, I’d love to also see him get his credit card refused in a Target check-out line because he is over his credit limit.

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