The decertification of the NFLPA accomplishes one singular purpose - for the individual players listed on the lawsuit (Brees, Manning and others) to sue the NFL and take certain aspects of the CBA negotiations into court rather than to a negotiating table.
The NFLPA certainly did not have to decertify. Of course, the NFL owners certainly did not have to opt a CBA that was profitable for everyone. These were choices. These were calculated. And neither decision certainly had anything to do with the game of football or the fans that love football. These were decisions simply based upon one factor - money. And it is a tug of war of dividing the profits between a group of billionaires vs a group of millionaires (and yes the poor unfortunate that only earn several hundreds of thousands of dollars).
Mind you, this is just a business guised as “sport”. At the heart, it is only an entertainment industry as pro sports gave up something in the spirit of competition a long time ago. Perhaps it never existed in the first place. Who knows. And the average fan certainly doesn’t care anyway.
Ironically, the business of football was not so jaded. It was understood by a few in ownership and a few representing the players, that a partnership was necessary to elevate the game to everyone’s best interests. The Giants ownership in particular is recognized for giving up self-gain for the betterment of the teams. There was a time not that long ago when pro football was more of an oddity than a national obsession. Compared to sports such as the World Series or even the Stanley Cup Finals, the Super Bowl was once an afterthought.
Perhaps without even realizing it, the NFL empire might be collapsing akin to the Romans. I sympathize neither conflicted party involved in this labor matter. I don’t buy the owners argument that a CBA at this junction was necessary to re-negotiate. Neither do I buy into the myth of the “we are slaves” mentality. This is not a matter of freedom. It is employment. Corporations hire and fire all the time. Corporations downsize. Corporations take away job benefits. The difference is the average income earner in this country draws next to nothing compared to the average professional athlete. Earning years? I respect the guy more that shells out 30-40 years of work. The pro athlete that manages finances properly should be retired comfortably at an earlier age. Yes, the physical toll is costly. But tell that to a fireman. Or a police officer. Or a coal miner. And of course, a US soldier.
As stated earlier, I do concede that a football pro contract should be worth what is committed to paper. This should be non-negotiable. But until players actually learn to use their own calculator versus listening verbatim to self-serving over glorified “agent” (aka pimp) I’m afraid 20 something year old athletes will continue to stoke their egos with imaginary multimillion dollar amounts on paper worth only a fraction in the fine print. Perhaps a little less time boozing, blinging and screwing gold diggers would be of benefit. Until these guys learn to manage their own personal finances, there is no chance in hell for the oft-mentioned pipe dream of player-ownership football league. It takes ability beyond an inheritance to properly manage the day to day operations of a pro football team. Some such as the Patriots excel quite well. While others such as the Raiders (and yes the Bears) are equally known for their fuckups as they are for the glory yesterdays.
In the end, this is just business. Only fans are hung up on the “sport”. And that is too bad. Because the real collective bargaining power resides to the customer. And the customer in this matter is far to eager, to hungry, and to forgiving, to get her and his football fix. It is a powerful addiction. And until the cash register till is less than full will either side truly comprehend how these negotiations are killing the collective golden egg.
Fuck the NFL. And fuck the former NFLPA.
PS - Hunter still wrote a good column.