In a league where common sense isn’t always so common, an NFL owner straightened
his spine and lubricated his jaw.
And the melodious notes of truth flowed forth like the mighty Mississippi.
One simple statement, that’s all it was. One soft exhale in a day filled with a
But sometimes all it takes is a whisper to tumble a house of cards.
A whisper uttered by one of the league’s most respected owners, Pittsburgh’s Dan
No doubt his words blew through the halls of the league office like a gail force
It’s about time.
On Friday, Mr. Rooney came out against the proposed 18-game schedule, saying he
was more concerned with the health, safety and well-being of the players than he
was about the extra money those games would generate.
BRAVO! Mr. Rooney. BRAVO!
If you close your eyes and quiet your mind maybe, just maybe, you can imagine
the commissioner and his minions scurrying around like field mice, trying to
formulate a damage control plan.
I’m not gonna lie. That little exercise puts a smile on my face. A big one.
The NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, have opted out of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement, threatened a lockout and cried about the tough economic
times (as if they’re really feeling the pinch).
Like moths swarming to a patio porch light, Goodell and his supporters have
flocked to the airwaves to spread their propaganda.
Forgive me if I can’t push out a tear.
One of the major obstacles to a new CBA is the league’s insistence on an 18-game
They would have you–the fan–believe that they lie awake at night, tossing and
turning, conflicted over the price they make you pay for preseason tickets.
And please, for the love of Pete, don’t even mention $6 hotdogs and $8 beers.
The mere thought of concession stand prices is almost enough to cancel their
Oh the agony!
The league claims that under their proposal the total number of games would
remain at 20. An even trade they say. Ditch two “meaningless” preseason games
and tack them on at the end of the season. It’s simple math.
Simple math, alright, unless you’re a player responsible for crunching the
It’s hard to know where to start, but let’s focus on the two “meaningless”
I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. Not exactly a hot bed of NFL talent (but I can
see Russia from my front door…rim shot please!). Even with no role model close
to home, the only thing I ever wanted to be was an NFL player. It was my dream.
I struggled with learning difficulties as a kid. I was called stupid and made
fun of incessantly by other kids. The only place I was respected was on the
There I transformed from the dumb, dyslexic kid to the schoolyard legend.
On that playground I was Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mel Blount. Always
leading my team to victory.
So please, Mr. Commissioner. Don’t tell me, a 10th round draft pick out of the
University of Idaho, that those two games are meaningless. The chance to compete
in those games is the reason my childhood dream (and three Super Bowl rings)
became a reality.
As I’ve said before, if the league dropped two preseason games the veterans
would get the lions’ share of playing time in the two preseason games that did
exist in preparation for the regular season. For them, the season would
effectively be a 20-game (injury-plagued) marathon.
For underdogs like me, the season (and their dreams) would be over before it
How can a league that has wagged its disapproving finger in the face of player
aggression and proselytized a message of player safety above all else, possibly
keep a straight face when advocating for an extension of the regular season?
This is not about player safety or giving more value to the fans. This is about
money. Plain and simple. Dinero, dough, moolah, greenbacks.
And like Mr. Rooney I’m left wondering, How much is enough?
If the league was truly concerned about its fans and the prices they are forced
to pay for preseason games absent veteran players, and if they were genuinely
compelled to fix the problem they could. Easily.
They could start by reducing the price of the tickets for the preseason games
the veterans don’t play. Or, better yet, they could borrow a page from the
college football playbook and call these early games scrimmages and offer free
They also could try being altruistic and giving away tickets to under-privileged
fans who otherwise would never be able to attend a game.
If they wanted to think outside the bank, I mean the box, I bet they could come
up with more good ideas.
Oh, wait. How silly of me.
I forgot that Mr. Rooney is an unfortunate minority of one.
For the rest of the NFL, it’s all about the money.