We’ve tried to make it clear over the past few days that we have only one constituency when it comes to the ongoing labor feud between the NFL and the players union — football fans.
And so we are committed to calling out both sides when necessary in the hopes of pressuring the parties to put the interests of the game — and football fans — above their own bickering regarding the question of whether too much is ever enough.
Last night, we pointed out that multiple agents believe that the union is doing a subpar job of providing information to players regarding the rules of the uncapped year. Now, we take issue with the manner in which the NFL is using its brand new NFLLabor.com web site.
The current lead item trumpets an article from Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, in which Dougherty declares, “As free agency begins, owners have an edge over players.”
Dougherty points to the fact that more than 200 players who won’t be eligible for unrestricted free agency due to the rules of the uncapped year constitutes “a big loss for performers in a young man’s game.”
Though the NFL didn’t write the article, the decision to feature Dougherty’s piece as the top item on a web site dedicated to the labor dispute has one obvious purpose — to stir up the players who are going to miss their shot at unrestricted free agency in 2010.
The apparent goal? To get the 200-plus players who’ll be relegated to restricted free agency to squeeze the union into taking the best deal that the league offers before March 5 — or after March 5 to spark a mutiny once the money begins to flow to the players who are eligible for unrestricted free agency.
Again, this isn’t how business partners should be behaving. There can be no NFL without NFL-caliber players, and NFL-caliber players will have no place to play south of Canada without the NFL. Fairly obvious tactics by both sides to drive wedges and/or curry favor with the average fan will only create more obstacles to doing a deal — and the only impact it will have on the general public is to get the public generally pissed off at everyone involved.
Last Sunday, 55 percent of the nation’s televisions weren’t watching the ultimate annual product that the NFL has to offer. It means that there are plenty of other things that we can do with our time, and plenty of football fans will find something else to do if the NFL and the NFL players can’t work out their differences — regardless of which side is actually at fault.
But, hey, the Bob Batterman playbook worked great for the NHL. Just ask all the people who stopped following hockey during the one-year lockout, and who never have gone back.