Friday, May 27, 2011

How Long Before We're Turned Away

  The dance continues.  Seemingly every day, we hear from someone with NFL in their resume telling us how we're supposed to feel and how they know how important our opinion is.  Personally, I'm tired of it.  Whether it be an owner, player, or even worse, Roger Goodell, every time they speak I'm irritated.  They speak of their desire to play, their desire to see football, and their understanding of the economic conditions that envelope their fans, yet they act like children when brought together for play time.  I'm getting closer to washing my hands of the entire thing.

  I will readily admit that I am a football fan above every other sport.  Despite growing up a fan of a team that rarely makes the playoffs and seldom even impacts the playoff picture, NFL football trumps baseball, basketball, hockey, and even beach volleyball as my favorite sport.  My autumn Sundays go by at lightning speeds because, quite frankly, it's the sport I love the most and I spend all day glued to my flatscreen.  That, however, has its limits.  I'm an avid fisherman, I enjoy reading, cooking, writing, and catching up with the shows on my DVR.  Eventually, I will grow tired enough of this NFL melodrama that I completely stop caring and pursue an aforementioned interest.  I'm curious how long they can push their stupidity before the general public does the same.

  I was 14 when baseball went on strike, and a blind eye coupled with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa doing irreparable damage to their baby making skills allowed that league to eventually rebound from taking the sport away from its fans.  That, of course, was during a time when the economy was relatively healthy.  I'm curious to see what happens when the NFL loses its followers while a significant portion of the fans are struggling to make ends meet, including season ticket holders.

  I have no desire to make the tired statement that this is about millionaires arguing with billionaires because I think it can be stated even more simply than that.  This is one group of guys with an incredibly easy job arguing with their employees, who also have an incredibly easy job.  No question, it takes immense talent that is unique to less than 2,000 people worldwide to be an NFL player.  No question, it takes an immense amount of wealth and confidence to own an NFL team.  No question, I don't give a damn.

  The radio and television appearances by members of both sides of the argument just make me grow tired of the whole ordeal.  If I go to a strip club with a pocket full of ones, I just want to see you dance.  I don't care how much your manicure costs.  I don't care where you bought your "costume."  I don't care who your boss is.  I brought my money because I care about the entertainment.  As long as you don't work the pole with a change purse on your waist, I'm fairly confident I can get what I came for.  While I've spent as much time at strip clubs as Tom Brady has on eHarmony, the point is still valid.  NFL football is entertainment, and we spend our money to be entertained.  This crap is not entertainment, and I hope the NFL fans are willing to eventually walk away.

  Personally, if pro football's impasse continues to the point that games are cancelled, I'm done.  For me, this includes the worthless pre-season games.  They've danced around the topic for months.  They've played the legal game and postured publicly about their positions long enough.  I'm tired of reading about how important this topic is, and I'm sick of hearing Roger Goodell say anything other than "I'm glad to be here" from a press box on Sunday.  Shut up, all of you, and put the product on the field.

  The problem with pro sports and their labor disputes is their monopolistic qualities.  The UFL and lingerie football league (lower case on purpose) are not going to swoop in and capitalize on a fall without football in the same way that nothing replaced Major League Baseball when they went on strike.  The true pro leagues own their respective sports.  That said, I'm not so tied to those leagues that I'm willing to put up with this crap to no end.  Perhaps you are.  Perhaps you're so tied to your local, or favorite, NFL team that no matter when the lock is lifted you'll come back, buy tickets, jerseys, NFL packages, and any other number of things that companies cash in on, and the league won't suffer.  I encourage you to have more of a backbone.

  If the NFL reaches the point that cancellations occur, I will effectively cancel my support.  My Sundays won't involve football.  My spot in my 13 year old fantasy football league will go to someone else.  I don't feel bad for either side in this dispute.  I won't feel a regret removing my support from the league or its players.  I'll catch up with my DVR on Super Bowl Sunday if need be.

  The fact is, NFL owners and players are taking advantage of the fans.  Neither side in the issue is doing a damned thing to make themselves look good.  They're hitting on the ugly chick with the hope that they're less obnoxious than their competition because they know we just need a date to the prom.  As I watch Tom Brady gleefully shoot down a water slide and Jerry Jones conduct interviews about the Mavericks' post-season run, I'm reminded constantly of one thing.  Neither side cares one iota about the fans.  The players are a bit divided on exactly why they're on strike.  The owners greedily pursue an agreement which allocates them even more money.  The fans wait.  Presumably, if you've read this blog before, you're a sports fan.  How long do you wait before you say enough is enough?  I'm reaching my limit.

  Here's the rub for me.  Every time you watch a sports show, be it Sportscenter or anything else, you hear something from an NFL representative, whether it's a player, owner, commissioner, or lawyer.  How many times in the past few months have you seen any of those people and done anything other than get irritated?  None have made a relevant point.  None have compelled you to support their argument.  Every single person that you've seen on television has made you think "can we be done with this crap yet?"  The problem is that only the fans (and undrafted free agents) actually seem to give a damn.

  Need proof?  Reggie Bush, public disgrace and draft flop, has taken to twitter to essentially mock the concern of fans by intimating that he's happy about the lockout.  Tom Brady, as previously mentioned, has gone on a metro-sexual love tour with his wife Gisele that included a strange trip to Carnivale.  Mark Sanchez spent his off-season defending his relationship with a 17 year old girl.  Hines Ward was voted the dirtiest player in Dancing With The Stars history when he tried to cripple his partner.  Several fringe players dotted the police blotter.  Ray Lewis got interviewed inexplicably, and Brett Favre retired again.  Do any of these actions speak of guys who really care to get back to work?  Do any of these players seem like they want to play?  Hell, Peyton Manning considers this thing such a pain in the neck he elected to have surgery. (I know, weak pun).

  Most disturbing in this whole dog and pony show is that every single person interviewed reiterates that there will be football.  I have zero doubt that this is the case, and it pisses me off.  When it comes down to it, the players want their checks and so do the owners.  Neither will happen during a lockout.  I'd guess, and solely guess, that by the second week of July, we'll all get to listen to owners, players, and Roger Goodell announce that "football's back."  Every interview you hear will praise the ability of the two sides to realize that they just had to get it done for their fans.  I beg you not to be stupid enough to believe that.  While I will be among the vast minority in this pledge, if the lockout reaches July 1st or results in the cancellation of any on-field activities, I'm not watching the 2011 season.  I can only hope that other NFL fans are willing to speak with their wallets as the players and owners play us all like fools.

Just for fun, a few things I think you'll hear when the lockout ends:

Peyton Manning - "Heck, I'm just glad to get back to football.  I love me some darned football."
Antonio Cromartie - "My kids say thanks."
Brett Favre - "I miss button fly jeans"
Pacman Jones - "Chomping at the bit."
Cam Newton - "Ask my dad."
Brad Childress - "Will work for food."
Jim Tressel - "Thank God"
Mike Vick - "We really screwed the pooch on this one."
Reggie Bush - "Kris Humphries, really?"
Gisele Bundchen - "Tom has my permission to participate."
Jamarcus Russell - "It's Sunday?"
Chad Henne - "Duck"
Troy Polamalu - "Something, something, something, hair, something."
Hines Ward - "Let's dance"
Mark Sanchez - "Do you have your temps?"
Eli Manning - "What Peyton said,"

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy your weekend everyone.