By Jason Keidel
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Perhaps your eyes popped last night while watching your local weatherman, who declared downright balmy weather was coming this week. And as the temps climb toward sixty by Friday, melting the gray mounds of snow below your window and taking with it the memories of a mutinous winter, you look to baseball.
Yet there is one reminder of the worst winter of my generation: NFL labor talks.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton in 1994 while discussing baseball’s labor angst, I don’t get why y’all can’t just figure out how to share a few billion dollars. Back then, it was a billion or two bucks on the bargaining slab. Now the NFL preens on pyramids of cash, somewhere around $7 billion annually.
I’m not a lawyer, don’t play one on television, and don’t care. To those of us – which means most of us – who won’t ever sign a $50 million deal to play sports, this reeks of theatrics, of Gordon Gekko’s mean mien.
Football is an inclusive game, built on almost symbiotic energy, the quintessential cliché where your team is literally as strong as your weakest link. That’s why we love it. And for the better part of two decades the NFL shield has shielded us from the fact that football is a business. Don’t stop now.
It’s bad enough you taxed the New Yorker with a PSL, wrenching the blue-collar bent from your fan base, making a seat in your stadium an exclusive, not inclusive, slice of Americana. It’s bad enough you quietly added 15 minutes of commercials to every contest, requiring your games be timed with a sundial rather than a stopwatch.
Now you want us to take sides, between Beavis and Butt-Head, dumb and dumber. You’re equally infantile. The cashier, construction worker, taxman, and travel agent doesn’t care about revenue streams and legalese. All we want is some very rich, ego-addled jocks and lawyers to get this done. How you do it is your business. Stop making it our business.
Baseball emerged from a broken season will Cal Ripken’s goodwill and then a rigged renaissance, a nouveaux game built on juicing behemoths, synthesizing our pastime’s record books and forfeiting our trust. The NFL needs to rip a page out of that sordid chapter.
The CBA doesn’t expire until March 3, and posturing seems inherent in any negotiation. Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, two peacocks with feathers flexed for this war dance, need to understand that Americans have no humor when it comes to this. Billionaires bickering with millionaires is not our idea of good television, particularly when it kills our Sundays, those autumnal portals through which we forget our troubles.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
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