Can't owners, players stop fighting?

Posted Aug. 27, 2012 @ 12:16 p.m.
Posted By Hub Arkush

As the 2012 NFL season nears its kickoff, we Americans find ourselves in the most disappointing spot we’ve been in in my lifetime. With a presidential election now less than 90 days away, both political parties have proven themselves far more concerned with promoting their own ideological positions and destroying each other than with doing the jobs they are elected or campaigning to do. According to almost every reputable public opinion poll, near or greater than a majority of the American people believe they will have to choose the lesser of two evils when they go to the polls rather than vote for the best men and women for the job. Although I am not one of those people, it is clear to me that bipartisanship for the greater good has become a fantasy and the idea of “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” is a concept many who wish to lead us today obviously have never grasped.

Almost as troubling as continuing to ignore the incredible mess we are making for our kids and grandkids by refusing any compromise to assure their futures is the impact this despicable behavior by our congressmen and senators is having on almost everything we do, and the NFL is clearly not immune.

Pro football on the field has never been better, and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited about the beginning of the new season — if for no other reason than to help distract us from the embarrassment our politics have become. But wasn’t it just a year ago we were all celebrating a new 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement and a decade of certain peace? Weren’t many trumpeting the dawning of a new golden age of the NFL to rival the 1970s following the merger? What good has come to the NFL since then?

Do any of you believe that the NFL owners, players, coaches, staffs or Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith or anyone on their staffs actually give a moment’s thought to the fans or what’s best for the game when they are fighting over how to most benefit their bosses or themselves?

As we state in the editorial above, the players agreed to HGH testing a year ago for the good of the game. Why hasn’t it happened?

The owners have proposed changes to the trade deadline and injured reserve rules — changes that would be welcomed nearly universally by everyone associated with the game and would create more jobs for players — but the union has said no. It has been reported the players’ refusal is because of other unspecified changes the owners asked for as well, but neither side will acknowledge what those changes are.

A league spokesperson did acknowledge to me that negotiation is taking place. But how can a union say no to more jobs and why does there have to be a negotiation? Pass what you know is good, the changes to the trade deadline and I.R. rules, and then argue about the rest! Or is that just not how we roll anymore?

What the Saints did in “Bountygate” was wrong. But it’s also something that has gone on in the league from its inception, and it was just the reveal that caused such a stir. Does the commissioner really not understand that any punishments handed out with a complete lack of transparency and due process are going to be poorly received? Don’t you think the embarrassment to the participants is enough to make the commissioner’s point? Is the league or the game better off in any way for Goodell’s trial, judging and executing of the players involved, clearly with no hope of objective or reasonable appeal?

Do the NFL owners really believe that not one of us, the 16-plus million who buy tickets to their games or the better than 45 million who watch them on TV every week, are entitled to real NFL officials for real NFL games? Should crushing another union be more important to them than spending three- or four-tenths of one percent of their profits, or maybe even a whole one or two percent of their millions in profits, for the good of the game?

Again, I can’t wait for the games, but whatever happened to the days when pro football as entertainment could be an escape from what stinks in our everyday lives?