The NFL has become more and more like the NBA, with certain players: (1) realizing the power they possess; and (2) not being afraid to use it. This development doesn’t sit well with those who made their bones in a league made up of players who knew their place.
Appearing on the Big Show Network, Hall of Fame G.M. Ron Wolf complained about quarterbacks trying to take charge of their careers, existing contractual commitments to their current teams notwithstanding.
“We have a lot of divas playing in the league right now,” Wolf said. “I fail to understand that all these guys have long-term deals. I can’t believe the game has changed that remarkably.”
“These guys” are Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Each is signed for at least the next three seasons. Each reportedly and/or actually want to be traded to new teams.
Does that make them divas? None has violated the terms of his individual contract with his team, yet. Besides, each has a broader union contract that gives him the right to withhold services as an exercise of leverage to force a trade, a new contract, or whatever else withholding services can achieve.
For decades, teams have blindly dictated terms to players. Take it or leave it. Our way or the highway. You’ll get nothing and like it. It’s about time that certain players — players who are critical of the success of a team — push back.
Nearly 50 years ago, the NFL realized that the game could become much more popular with diverse passing attacks that revolutionize scoring. It has happened. And it has made quarterbacks far more important than ever before.
So quarterbacks have leverage. And quarterbacks are allowed to use it. That doesn’t make them divas. It makes them smart.
And it makes the reactions of guys like Wolf predictable. But no amount of get off my tundra rants will change the fact that the game has changed. A great quarterback has become a key ingredient to having a great team. Those teams that have great quarterbacks had better do whatever they can to ensure that the great quarterbacks want to stay where they are, because the days of great quarterbacks sucking it up and dealing with bad coaching, bad personnel decisions, or anything else great quarterbacks don’t like are over.
Like it, don’t like it, doesn’t matter. It’s over. And the teams that realize the cheese hasn’t just moved but has melted are the teams that will thrive in an environment where a great quarterback is the most important person in the organization, and should be treated accordingly.