The NFL has a sacred place in many of our hearts, a Sunday ritual attended to as faithfully as any church service. The game itself is as compelling and as well-watched as any televised program today, and even a deep economic recession has little affected attendance numbers. (Source: Forbes.com) Frankly, we love the game and we expect those who shepherd it to be reasonable-minded men interested in keeping the flock healthy and whole.
And that's what makes the contrarian stance of the owners, led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, so difficult to understand.
Doug Farrar, writer for the Shutdown Corner on Yahoo, as well as Football Outsiders, sat in on an NFL Players Association conference call, and captured some unbelievable things in his Twitter timeline. Said Farrar as an introduction: "It's clear from this NFLPA conference call that the league's and the players' takes on player safety are very far apart." However, it isn't just the players that are on the so-called playing field of this business negotiation... now Goodell is openly going after their families, directly attacking the players' ability to be providers.
If the CBA negotiation process breaks down completely, and the players find themselves locked out of their jobs, they'll be unemployed -- with the corresponding loss of health insurance and other benefits that are commensurate with full-time employment.
Scott Fujita, CLE player rep, says on conf. call- player wives have asked if they should induce labor before lockout health insurance lapses
Again -- this is a NINE BILLION DOLLAR PER YEAR organization in which the wives of the players wonder if births of kids will be covered.
Fujita asked Goodell about those player wives worried about insurance, and Goodell said, "well, you'll want to get this done, won't you?"
If the CBA negotiation process breaks down completely, and we find our Sundays hijacked and the growth of our Rams stunted, remember this moment. Maybe this bit of inhumanity, this bit of irrationality, this pure lack of reason was the line in the sand that couldn't be crossed.
Update: Farrar posted a full article at the Shutdown Corner detailing this and other surprising revelations from the NFLPA Conference call. Also, the NFL's Greg Aiello published the league's official argument for a change to the CBA on ESPN. That deserves its own post and its own dissection...