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A Great Super Bowl - Was That The Last Pro Football Game (for now)?
The possibility of an NFL lockout next season
This year's recent Super Bowl that was played in an icy and frigid Dallas, TX - though it was kept indoors so no one felt the elements - was one that unlike so many past Super Bowls, lived up to the hype.
The Green Bay Packers, who performed brilliantly in taking advantage of three Pittsburgh Steeler turnovers and winning 31-25, thus taking home the Vince Lombardi Trophy - named after their iconic coach, proved once and for all that it is not always the best team that wins a championship, but rather the team that plays the best.
The Pack definitely fit that description, considering that they were the number six (and last) seed in the NFC playoffs and essentially had to win four games on the road to claim the title.
Now that the confetti has been thrown and cleaned up, the analysis has been done and the proper players have exclaimed that they were going to Disneyland (or Disney World), a question that is weighing heavily on countless numbers of fans needs to be asked:
Was Super Bowl XLV the last National Football League Game that will be held for a while?
There's a simple reason why this is even being considered: As the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL owners and the players has expired (or will expire within a few weeks), a work stoppage looms on the horizon due to the fact that the team owners are unhappy about how things have gone financially in the league.
Among the issues that the owners are contending are these...
- In these billionaires' view, the players are receiving too large a share of the $9 billion that the NFL has generated, almost 60% after the first billion dollars is taken by owners; they want a significantly larger piece of the pie.
- The owners desire to have the regular season increased to 18 games from the current 16, taking out two of the four pre-season exhibition contests and starting the season in mid-August.
- The owners are asking to set new spending limits on rookie salaries; they see these first year players as getting way too much money for someone who has done nothing on their level.
Lowering revenue shares is a huge red flag to the players and their union, the NFL Players Association, being that the average salary in their league is lower than Major League Baseball's and the National Basketball Association's to begin with.
They are also very concerned with adding another couple of games to a schedule that they feel is extensive enough, espiecially when one considers the fact that concussion and other debilitating and potentially career-ending injuries are already rampant. I'm sure the players are saying, "These owners want to add two more games to pad their already bulging pockets when we're drained and beat up enough as it is?! I don't think so!"
The one issue that I see the two sides agreeing on is the spending limits for rookies. Twenty-one and 22 year-old kids should not be getting $50 million dollars or anything near that on the basis of a standout college career, regardless of how many All-American teams they made or how many trophies they won; they need to prove themselves in the big leagues before even sniffing that kind of dough.
The other important things that the NFLPA, led by DeMaurice Smith after Gene Upshaw headed that union for years want on the table to be negotiated are a better health care and pension package (obviously), and for the owners to open their books and prove that their finances are as problematic as they say they are.
The pertinent point that has fans in fear is that the owners are taking a hardline stance about what they want in these issues, and are apparently more than prepared to lock the players out if an agreement is not reached by the deadline that they set, which is March 4th. Although they will increase, talks between NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and Smith have been sporadic as of now.
When interviewed at the Super Bowl, Goddell said that he hopes to have a new contract in place in two weeks, but the odds of a lockout are very good. It would be the first work stoppage in the NFL since the 1987 players' strike, which didn't go too well as the owners simply brought in replacement players (scabs) and carried on.
It's my opinion that the owners of the 32 NFL teams are looking to go to war and are okay with shutting down at least part of the 2011 season if it comes down to that. As with all sports stoppages, the only real losers in all of this would be the fans, most of whom can't afford a ticket to an NFL game anyway.
The saddest part of it all is that billionaires are picking a fight with millionaires; it reminds me of the schoolyard bullies trying to take lunch money from first graders.
I certainly hope that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be worked out, as the NFL's immediate future may well be at stake.