Is the Lockout Really an Opportunity in Disguise?

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No, both sides are too needy & greedy to miss out on making a buck and all of my money is on this getting settled sooner as opposed to later. Some of the players are starting to grumble about the lack of enthusiasm and sincerity the NFLPA has demonstrated in past so called negotiations and the owners are bound to be nervous with lagging ticket sales to help support their albatross stadiums. The league and owners are also aware a prolonged lockout could have long lasting negative effects. The big question is when will the players tell Smith to quit playing political and legal games with peoples’ lives and does what is best for the players? A major question for me is what the networks must be thinking. They have as much or more to lose than anyone involved.
Regardless of the side you support, if any, it is clear the fans get no consideration. This is ironic given the fact that it will be the fans who will shoulder the financial burden of concessions given up from either side. Let me say that in a different way. No matter what type of bargaining agreement is made, the fans will lose. It is inevitable prices affiliated with the NFL will go up!!
The NFL is not only a business, but a juggernaut of a sports entity whose popularity has reached a historical high basically dwarfing the closest competitor. What was once intended as entertainment primarily for men on a fall Sunday afternoon has grown to become a financial monster with numerous media affiliates hanging on every rumor and event. Have you in your life ever heard of a network airing a re-run of a draft or combine?? Only the NFL could possibly pull off something as boring and redundant as that. In fact, the NFL is so confident in their product (yes, it product) that the NFL Network runs 24 / 7 / 365, often showing the same programs over and over in a single week of programming. WOW!
Have we as fans given this sport too much importance or prominence in our lives? Think about that for a moment. How much time do you dedicate to a sport full of people that could not give a crap if you are even alive? Sounds cruel, huh? It is a fact. Let’s look at the situation from a different angle. Could a partial season or even a loss of a season be a good thing? I hear what you are thinking! Fins, have you lost your mind? Dude, put down the pipe! Before I go further, let me briefly clarify just how much I love the Fins and the sport itself.
My family moved from Ohio to Ft. Lauderdale at the urging of my aunt (father’s sister) in 1969 when I was 7 yrs. old. My uncle had season tickets since the inaugural season and took me to my first Dolphin game that fall. We continued to go to every home game for the next several years and my love for Fins became stronger with every passing day. Even as I grew up and moved away, I always kept up with my Fins and was among the first of my friends to switch from cable to DirecTV solely for the purpose of buying the NFL Ticket.
I have not missed a game since 1987 when I was in the hospital with appendicitis (it hit on a Sunday morning while I was at the smoker preparing a pork shoulder). I do nothing on game day except read the sports section, watch pre-game, cook, eat, drink cold beer and watch my Fins. I even have an entire season “game day menu” patterned after the city they play in where practical (KC or Carolina BBQ, New Orleans crayfish or gumbo, Philly cheese steaks…) that I choose from every Sunday during the season.

The affliction gets worse! I don’t answer the phone during the games and anyone that knows me, knows not to call unless it is regarding the Fins game (even death can wait). I once delayed evacuating our home because of a threatening hurricane until after the Dolphins game. True story! We had a 110 mph hurricane coming our way and we watched the game inside of a boarded up house! I proposed to my wife at half time of a game in Miami. I own MULTIPLE jerseys, hats, sweaters and shirts, including an autographed numbered limited edition (number 13 of 13) Marino jersey. I also have an autographed Zach Thomas throwback jersey. Just the frames alone are over 100 bucks each!! Understand? I love Dolphin football!

Yes, I have it bad, but even a Phin Phanatic like me has his limits (I think). I am not sure I can stand, or even want to, another DirecTV NFL Ticket cost hike, or an increase in game tickets, parking or even merchandise. Granted, I don’t have lifetime season tickets on the 50 yard line of every home game, but I have plenty to sacrifice just the same. Maybe this is an opportunity to bring the sport back to “reasonable financial” levels, or perhaps this is a good time for me and possibly “us” re-evaluate our priorities.
This is a difficult situation and there is no right or wrong answer. Some people will continue to pay higher prices and support overpaid diva athletes no matter what. They are hooked just like the guy who said he would quit smoking when cigarettes go to a buck a pack, but he is still huffing at five times that price. Are we addicted to the NFL like he is addicted to tobacco?
In my way of thinking, compensation should be directly related to the benefit given to society or a given organization. Things like education, experience and expertise are “usually” rewarded accordingly. Hence, a doctor or CEO makes more money than an orderly or janitor. Here are some things to think about concerning the NFL lockout, the salaries of the players, and the average Joe Fan.
1. How much do we benefit from the NFL? Enough to warrant multi-million dollar salaries?
2. For every guy drafted there are probably at least 20 who wanted to be drafted and would happily play at a fraction of the going salary. Would you be willing to watch them on Sunday afternoons in exchange for lower prices? Why or why not?
3. When, not if, this lockout is resolved will you be willing to pay a higher price for anything associated with the NFL (tickets, TV, merchandise…), or are you at your breaking point?
4. In all of the unionized labor I have ever been familiar with, there is a defined pay scale. The scale is specific to the minimum and maximum pay or “top out” rate for each job classification. The NFL has a minimum salary, but not a top out rate. The only thing close is a salary cap for the payroll as a whole. Why is that? Funny how the highest paid players are the one’s suing the league.

Proposed Solution
Given the situation of the owners needing more money to improve facilities and cover growing cost (I believe it and if you don’t Google financial records of the only public NFL team, the Green Bay Packers ) and the players needing funding to cover medical bills and take care of the retired players, I have a solution. What about this?

1. NFL stays unionized (not my favorite solution)
2. Increase roster to 56 in order to increase depth, give rest.
3. Minimum salary of 250K for making the roster and 5 mil. maximum salary for any one player.
4. 18 game schedule, 2 pre-season games, 2 open dates per team, SB played late Jan. or early Feb.

Of course the details would need to be worked out, but this is potentially a win-win. The plan increases the parity of the players’ salaries & reduces the total payroll for the owners. This plan will give both the owners and players the funding they need and could even lead to reduced costs for us lowlife fans (God forbid).

Last Thoughts
I firmly believe that most of the players in the NFL realize their good fortune of making such an outrageously lucrative living doing something they love so much and it is only a small moronic “vocal minority” calling the conditions in the NFL as “modern day slavery”. I also believe the salaries no longer represent a comparable worth to the fans, society, or a form of entertainment. I sincerely think if it were not for the NFL, 99.999% of the players on today’s team’s rosters would need a very serious budget adjustment.

After all, isn’t there something wrong when it cost a couple of hundred dollars to go to a football game? When baseball players went on strike some years back, I got a refund for my tickets and have never looked back. I can do the same for the NFL. Can you?



Joe Farley, aka Fins4ever

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