When Mommy B first gave me the keys to the car and said I could technically post about anything I wanted (not just Alli), I didn't really know what to do with myself at first. There are just so many topics that have the potential to be good blog fodder... but would I be able to tap my inner Shakespeare and compose award-winning prose for the pure entertainment value of the masses? Let's face it, I could write a decent term paper back in college - but I was an Economics major, not an English major (or heaven help me, a Comm major). My apologies to all the Comm majors who may be reading this and making grammatical critiques. But I digress. On to a topic that will most definitely affect our family come this fall... FOOTBALL.
This past week, labor "talks" between the NFL Players Association and NFL club owners broke down and things have taken a turn for the worse. For those of you who don't follow the NFL (or don't care enough to follow it) - I'll try to dumb it down for you. Basically, after the 2010 season the contractual bargaining agreement (CBA) that the Player's union and Owners agreed to a few years back expired - which means that both side now have to renegotiate a new CBA before another season can be played. In other words, they have to decide who is going to get paid what for the next few seasons.
Only problem is - both sides want a bigger piece of the proverbial pie. Owners wanted a longer season, less benefits to retired players, less pay to current players, and a direct vacuum attachment straight to your wallet when you sit in their stadium seats. The Players want to keep the season the way it is, more benefits to retired/veteran players, and a salary cap for rookies. There are more moving parts than what I just listed, but you get the idea.
Since a new CBA has not been agreed upon by last week's deadline, the Owners are forced to "lockout" the players - meaning that coaches cannot engage in trade talks, players cannot contact coaches nor can they even enter the team's facility. Big mess. Naturally, the players are trying to fight back through our oh-so-expedient justice system. In other words, we might have the NFL back by 2020.
Even though I'm a mandatory fan for one of the most disenchanted franchises in the history of the NFL (the Cincinnati Bengals), I never thought I would hear myself utter the following phrase: I'm actually hoping there is no 2011 NFL season. And here are my reasons why:
1. Being a former football player myself, I cannot help but side with the Players on the issue of not expanding the regular season. If the Owners got their way, the regular season would be 18 games long with 2 preseason games. Let's do some quick math: 19-20 weeks of regular season games (18+1 or 2 Bye weeks) + 2 weeks of preseason games + 2 weeks of "camp" = about 24 weeks of full contact football. I could barely make it through 13 weeks of Division III college football - I can't imagine almost half a year of professional athletes spearheading each other at full speed. Dear NFL Owners, the human body wasn't made for that kind of contact. Love, your fans who don't want to see the towel boy have to suit up because you're fresh out of running backs by week 17.
2. All the other points are really white noise compared to the larger issue: billionaires fighting with millionaires over money does not concern those of us who do not financially benefit from the situation. No matter how you spin it, it becomes an offensive, revolting game of chicken that bears no resemblance to anything most of the rest of us would consider to be real. My hope is that there is no NFL this season... and because of that, some very, very rich people whose richness is all but guaranteed by the monopolistic business they're fortunate to be a part of take it squarely in the front of their boxer shorts. **Ahem, paging Mr. Brown... Mr. Mike Brown to the front desk please.**
3. Just about everyone involved in America's favorite sport is getting paid plenty to do so. I know that the players are risking life and limb each day they put on a helmet, but so did I at one point - for free. I played 7 years of high school and college football on a completely irrelevant level to anyone outside the stadium. And I did it all for my love of the game. So excuse me, Mr.-Millionaire-Rookie-who-just-signed-a-contract-for-more-money-than-I'll-probably-see-in-10-lifetimes, no I don't feel bad that you didn't think enough ahead to put away some money for your health care and other basic needs once your football career is over. What's that? You might have to sell one of your houses and a couple of your cars? Hang on, let me unpack my violin case. It might take a minute, it's rather small and I have kinda big hands.
As much as I'm going to miss NFL football this season, it couldn't have come at a better time. Since Alli will be old enough to walk by then, I plan on spending my Sunday afternoons this fall being much more productive (and happier) than I was watching the Bengals "play football" last fall. Well would ya look at that... I was able to relate this whole situation back to Alli eventually. I knew I could do it. Perhaps no NFL this season will be a blessing in disguise after all.