The NFL and a new labor deal

The National Football League and the league’s players union (NFLPA) are volleying the ball over the media net to take jabs, make nice, and further cloud the league’s future as it blows smoke about its stagnant labor-issue discussions.

A rookie wage scale? An 18-game season? HGH testing? What percent of X billions of dollars go to players and what percent goes to the owners?

Does it seem like little kids fighting in the sandbox over any number of plenty of toys? Mike Ditka thinks so, too.

It seems to incredibly obvious to me that a rookie wage scale needs to go into effect. (Should Matt Stafford really be the highest paid player in the league?) An 18-game season is ridiculous and will result in shorter careers, more concussions, more brain damage and — for what? — lots more money. HGH testing is a slam dunk, but I find it difficult to believe either side really wants it. (Owners want aggressive, strong, ripped, great players… and players want bigger paychecks.)

I love football. I love the NFL. I love the Steelers, and great players, and great plays, last-second finishes, the playoffs, the Super Bowl, fantasy drafts, grown men crying, and the Hall of Fame inductions.  I might love college football just as much. I love crisp, sunny Saturday afternoons, bands blaring fight songs and “Louie, Louie.” I love age-old rivalries, freshmen kickers splitting the uprights, Senior Days, bone-jarring hits, and last-second heroics. I love the Rose Bowl, Heisman Trophy “races,” and bar-room debates over the Bowl Championship Series.

I admit it – I love it all.

But sports is really, really messed up.

It isn’t the crime, or the entitlement, or the spectacle, or the hypocricy — though those are definitely issues.

It’s the money. It’s our insatiable demand for something we mere mortals can never be or do. It’s billion-dollar stadiums and ridiculous luxury suites as much as it is Hail Mary passes and duped-out-of-your-shoes jukes. 

You and I can sit on our couches and watch games on our 42-inch plasmas — which we cherish — but we will likely never put on the pads and crack helmets. We can’t run fast, or throw far, or scheme like Mike Holmgren. We don’t look like Adonis when we’re naked. We can’t get Gisele or Kim Kardashian’s attention. (And most of the ladies out there will never date the likes of Tom Brady or Reggie Bush, though this story might make you thankful for that.) Nor, will most of us ever have the financial freedom to do exactly what we want to do when we want to do it

Loving sports may be just as much about admiring what we will never be and never have as it is about competition.

Sports is capitalism gone haywire. (And college football may very well be the worst example of that, too.)

I love sports and I’m part of the problem. Trust me, I am.

And I, just like the NFL owners and the NFLPA, know that this greed is only going to get worse because I’m going to buy jerseys, obsess over fantasy stats, watch the games, drink Bud Light, fly Southwest, ship FedEx.

Just like the owners and the players, I know that some deal will be struck after lots of pointless grandstanding and that that deal will be in place to make rich men richer and to cost me more.

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