Well, it was fun while it lasted. For 10 days or so, the players and the league kept quiet about the ongoing labor dispute, presumably after being told by Judge Susan Nelson that the renewed mediation would be subject to the strictest of confidence.
But the positive vibes were short-lived. On Sunday, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reported that the parties aren’t serious about trying to work out their differences. In what arguably amounts to confirmation of that reality, the league has started throwing logs back onto the NFLLabor.com propaganda fire.
In the third but most pointed entry since Judge Nelson told the two sides to stifle themselves about the situation, NFLLabor.com has added a summary of one specific aspect of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s conference call with Chargers season-ticket holders.
In the call, Goodell addressed publicly something about which plenty of management-side sources privately have been grumbling — the NFLPA*-publicized notion that NFL players spend on average fewer than four years in the profession.
“There is a little bit of a misrepresentation or a misunderstanding on that,” Goodell said. “Frequently, it is said that the average career is about 3.5 years. In fact, if a player makes an opening day roster, his career is very close to six years. If you are a first-round draft choice, the average career is close to nine years. That 3.5-year average is really a misrepresentation. What it adds is a lot of players who don’t make an NFL roster and it brings down the average.”
He’s right. But what does the NFL gain by trumpeting those words on a league-owned labor propaganda site?
If you’re getting the sense that we’re getting sick of it, your senses aren’t deceiving you. This has become a protracted political campaign, but with no date set for the election and the silence that inevitably follows. And so we’ll all be bombarded by this stuff on an indefinite basis, as the league and the players continue to underestimate the extent to which the fans will bite back.
We’ve got a strong feeling it’s coming. Specifically, we’ve got a feeling that the fans who show up for the draft at Radio City Music Hall (and we suspect that plenty of them won’t, especially on Day Two and Day Three) will be very loud and very angry. Coupled with the reduction in TV ratings points, the message to all parties will be very clear.
Quit acting like children. Start acting like adults. And give us back our game. Now.