Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kill the Golden Goose, Goodell: Save NFL or Encounter Ugly Lockout

For all the foolish nonsense of a potential lockout by 2011, Roger Goodell will make enemies if he doesn’t reach an agreement any time soon. Things are animous currently, in which football could suddenly face a hideous relapse.

By any means, why would Goodell allow owners to kill an entire season? Why would he cost the league millions after failing to pacify owners? The commish isn’t an idiot and he won’t screw things up, to make matters worse.

If so, the NFL becomes a travesty and a contemptible war among owners and players. But to stay above the fray, Roger Goodell is liable if a season is suddenly postponed with the failure of reaching an agreeable deal.

Amid a recession, industries have downsized a large amount of jobs and crippled and shut down completely, but the NFL is the most enticing and exciting industry, so Goodell doesn’t have to dismiss employees or force teams to reduce in luxury taxes.

Please understand, the National Football League isn’t that stupid. Owners realize there’s an enormous amount of profit that could be lost.

Imagine losing out on an entire season—venues are shut down, and fans are spending Sundays at church, or home relaxing, or working on chores before starting a long week of work.

Imagine owners losing out on millions, and Goodell being known as the commissioner who failed in a prominent role. Thus far, he has been successful in handling issues by instituting a player’s conduct policy.

And props to an intolerant Goodell, who played the role of a police officer on certain occasions when he inflicted harsh penalties on players for their foolish actions on and off the field. But he isn’t nearly as powerful when staring directly at the NFL Players Association, an empire that has seized control, and is currently overpowering Goodell.

What we are looking at is a powerful democracy, while Goodell is a puppet on strings. As of now, the league remains in limbo, and could be in worst shape by tomorrow.

On the positive side, the NFL is the most compelling and thriving league in American sports, but unfortunately the market dominating during a competitive age seems incapable of settling an ongoing issue that is gradually unraveling.

Although the game has hit a financial crisis, the NFL is still in good health. On Sunday, more than 106 million people had their eyes glued to the television watching the Super Bowl, which set a staggering record as the most-watched program in television history.

Owners are taking $1 billion off the top of total revenue, but the league is urging players to decline their share of remaining revenue from roughly 59 percent to 41 percent.

And while there’s a new television contract created, owners are expected to earn $5 billion if there’s a lockout in 2011, an insurance policy to keep a fair share in the pockets of wealthy NFL owners.

As baffling as it sounds, the NFLPA is speaking as if there will be a lockout, advising all players to save 25 percent of their salary.

Franchises are declining to reveal their average profit margin. Owners are infuriated about non-salary cap systems, especially when NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith proffered that it’s unlikely the league will formulate salary cap systems if there’s none established in 2010.

All the hoopla about the Collective Bargaining Agreement, rookie wages, uncapped seasons, and labor deals is making NFL devotees cringe. This is a league that has become America’s trademark, a league truly embraced for the dramatic contests and athletes in general.

As the highest enterprise in the country, the last thing to anticipate is a distasteful lockout. But now, it’s a business immune to problems other major leagues have faced in the past, skipping out either an entire season or half a season.

The NBA was highly viewed as a likable association until encountering a lockout in 1999, which almost lasting an entire season. Before degenerating completely, the NBA reestablished its credibility when an influx of superstars began contributing and lured in viewers.

An entire season was delayed when MLB had ended the ’94 season on the downside in late August—an ordeal that toppled its stature until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa saved the game with a remarkable home run race, which is now marked with asterisks since the heinous steroid revelations.

The NHL hasn’t recovered after taking off an entire season for an awful lockout in the ’04-’05 season. Even though the league is surviving on the resurgence of two sensational stars in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL is still dealing with a financial crisis and lost television deal—and accepted a deal with the Versus network after ESPN refused to televised games.

Maybe the NFL feels it won’t have to face similar problems, but it remains unknown. It’s hard to tell where the National Football League will stand following a lockout.

Currently, the two sides are fighting about $8 billion in profit, and if there’s no settlement anytime soon, matters may turn ugly and end an entire season before it resumes.

Smith said owners want the players to take an 18 percent pay cut, for an annual average of $340,000—including a steep request in which players are allowed to accept only 41 percent of applied revenues. Yes, the NFL is stuck in a storm. And to weather the storm, Goodell must step in, as he has in many situations.

At the annual State of League news conference on Friday, he constantly drifted away from the ongoing topic, an issue that kind of highlighted and heralded much chatter leading up to the big game. He’s ashamed to dwell on a serious controversy that could later tantalize the most prominent league in all of major sports.

It seems to me owners are asking for a lockout, angry of all the unfairness transpiring within a wealthy market. During economic downturns, I think the last thing fans want to see is a lockout, as the game of football takes those watching in their living rooms away from reality.

Certainly, we want to believe Goodell isn’t that naïve or stupid to allow owners to take a gigantic step towards a hiatus—an awful hiatus which would be damaging for a league that manages to produce high TV ratings and ticket sales at local venues. The average franchise is worth $1 billion dollars, and fans are willing to pay for expensive tickets.

Owners are richer, gaining profit by the minute. Players are earning huge contracts, even if they under-perform. But greed and ego is happening at the same time, and Goodell has to take accountability before all things fail by 2011.

Sure, players are ticked off having to accommodate a system where their money isn’t guaranteed as in Major League Baseball. Sure, owners are upset about the guaranteed money dished out to players. Oh, get over it.

There’s an uncapped year looming, but there shouldn’t be a NFL lockout if Goodell pleases both sides, as well as Smith—the union chief who seems to believe a lockout is inevitable.

There’s some truth to his belief that both sides are unwilling to compromise over labor disputes. And even worse is, if next season is played without a salary cap, and the collective bargaining agreement expires, owners may stage a lockout of players and replace their teams like during the last labor stoppage in ’87.

If nothing is done, things will get ugly.

Come on, commish.

I repeat, come on, commish. Save your sport.