All We’re Asking For Is Accountability ……….. The Fans That Is
In making their choice of choosing DeMaurice Smith the Players’ Association and have broken with tradition by naming an outsider to lead their union. Smith who’s a lawyer by profession brings with him a great deal of knowledge but primarily in the field of corporate litigation. So it’d be wise to presume that he possesses all of the communicative skills one would expect of a trial lawyer. That being said the union and how its members are now being perceived by the public may be of greater issue and concern for Smith . Rather than the cordial relationship that he for one states that he’d like to maintain with Goodell.
With the collective bargaining agreement about to be opted out of at the behest of the owners not being prepared to play ball with union. One can well understand that things could become very contentious between the two parties. It won’t be so much that the agreement itself can’t be dealt with in the appropriate manner. But with the now acute economic climate the players aren’t prepared to make any sort of concession to the owners that’d weaken their position overall. They’d rather be in the driver’s seat and not a passenger. And in a business where it’s gross revenues is in excess of $7.8bn . That’s a great deal of money that the union sees that ought to be placed within their own coffers by way of the agreement in place. The combined value of all 32 teams is in excess of $20 bn. And their television package alone annually is in the range of $900m. The contract is set to expire in 2010. But this plays only a marginal part in terms of the gross revenues that the league garners each year. When one takes into account the sales and merchandizing domestically as well as internationally. You can see why it is that the NFL is in such an enviable position. It has turned owners who came into the league as millionaires into billionaires. And multi millionaires into multi billionaires.
All of the franchises within the NFL have seen their values appreciate greatly over the past five years. And it certainly hasn’t exactly been a blight to the owners concerned. And now within the midst of an economic downturn . We’ve not exactly seen a tightening of the belts of many of the teams. Though it can be said that some teams have taken note. The NFL itself has laid off workers within its head office in New York. Some teams have followed suite but by laying off ancillary staff that it deems not needed or necessary. But yet the wage demands of the players are still at a disproportionately high level . Where one might deem it to be overly opportunistic. So much so that we’re now starting to see outrageous demands being met by teams who in all reality have either lost their minds. Or the mere fact that in their overzealousness to chase the immediacy of success warrants the spending of the vast sums. They deem that whatever it will take will be worth it in the long run. At this juncture there aren’t exactly any guarantees that the success envisaged will follow.
Teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins with their deep pockets and known for their overspending. They haven’t been the bastions of success over the last couple of years. If anything they’ve become all too well known for their mediocrity on the field of play. And the outsized ego’s of their owners and the off the field antics of some of their players. Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder respectively have become the embodiment of what the all power hungry NFL owner has become all about. In their zeal to win at all costs , it appears whatever it takes does take a back seat sound judgment . They’ve been known for more hits and misses when it comes to the conducting of their operations . But then if they’re still making money it doesn’t really matter to them at the end of the day. But for their long suffering fans they may well see it differently. Especially when it comes time to the renewal of the season tickets. Those increases along with that of the general admission prices do tend to take a bite of a fans’ discretionary spending. But yet the owners are of the opinion that the fans are only all too willing to endure this.
As alluded to earlier in this piece the Players’ Association (union) is now under new leadership. And whatever is about to happen with regard to the collective bargaining agreement. I think that one of the first issues that ought to be addressed by Smith ought to be the conduct of his members. It seems not a season goes by where a player or players haven’t ran afoul of the law. And the cases are only all the more exacerbating . If it’s not for a drug related offense. Then it’s for conduct that borders as being the most egregious one might consider. And many of the players have more often than not become repeat offenders. One might consider the case of former Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receive Matt Jones ? Or that of current Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth ?
Jones having been caught possessing cocaine. However the case against the player warranted nothing more than probation and he was ordered into a drug rehabilitation program. One of the stipulations of his probation was his none consumption of alcohol . It’d appear that the player felt that he was above the law and the boundaries set. A lot of the times it’s the player who’s to blame. But more often than not it has been the leniency of the legal system and the judge who presides over a case. In the case of Stallworth he’s now the subject of an investigation by the Miami Beach Police Department with regard to a DUI manslaughter. His victim was 59 year old Mario Reyes. Stallworth struck and killed the victim while driving his Bentley in the early hours of the morning. His blood alcohol level registered an 0.14, almost twice the legal limit within the state of Florida. The legal limit being .08. That in of itself oughtn’t to excuse the action of the player. But somehow even the facing the possibility of up to 15 years in jail. One can surmise that whatever legal maneuvers that’ll be used by his Miami based attorney Robert Switkes to make sure that his client may not see a day behind bars. These type of occurrences will continue to go on unabated with little or no action coming from the NFL itself or that of the union.
Far too often the punishment meted out by either legal establishment or even the NFL has been seen as nothing more than a slap on the wrist. But yet it’d appear the only concerns of both the union and the NFL . Is that on appearance is their reputations remain intact. And the continuous flows of monies comes into their coffers in even larger amounts . The actions of the players whilst viewed in some circles around the league as part and parcel of them being members of society. Wherein their acts are no different from ordinary members of the public. The reality is that the public view the acts of these players individuals who feel that they’re enabled and above the laws of the land. It has been the failure of both the union and the NFL to face these situations head on and deal with them appropriately. That has now left the public and fans at large apoplectic. And if nothing else it ought to be the fans that the unions and the NFL ought to be concerned with at this juncture. Failure to act in the interests of the game and that of the fan can only lead to a further disenchantment with not only the NFL but the union as well. If image is everything then the powers that be that are in control of the game on both sides of the equation ought to now start to clean up their act.
Is it really too much to ask for them to hold themselves accountable ?