After the Cleveland Browns won their first game in nearly two seasons, I decided to catch some of the 30 for 30 about Junior Seau. While the complete opposite of the merriment in Ohio, Seau’s story provoked further thought. Unbelievably, these two events remain linked by an opinion. Granted, the Browns emerging with a win and Seau’s story look different, yet peer closer. If you listen to fans, some feel like the players owe them something in exchange for their allegiance. The NFL owns a certain ebb and flow.
Players Know Risks?
If you make the mistake I do on a daily basis and scan social media for sports, an encounter with THAT fan always lurks. After the Seau documentary, like clockwork, fans will maintain that players know the dangers of playing. On its face, that statement is true, now. However, for the decades preceding, head trauma studies, they did not know. Junior Seau’s suicide arrived at a time when the world became more aware of CTE and brain injury. When Seau shot himself, the bullet landed in his chest. In that case, he wanted his brain studied, intact. As a result, doctors found extensive CTE in his brain. Today, players do know the risks. However, that does not mean that they should not take precautions to maintain a quality of health and life. In years past, Mike Webster and Dave Duerson had no clue why their brain, emotions, and mental state deteriorated.
Unfortunately, fans fail to turn their ire at the two most culpable parties, the league, and player’s union. With the CBA expiring in two years, if the union does not secure guaranteed contacts, players will continue to hold out. However, the players’ union manages to slip detection and scorn.
When Khalil Mack failed to show up to camp, and the Raiders subsequently traded him, fans criticized Mack? At 27, Mack remains one of the most disruptive, dominant defensive forces in the NFL. Under those circumstances, he felt that a significant raise was necessary. Yet, fans chided him for being selfish. Unless Joe Sixpack straps up, laced the cleats and fights with 320-pound tackles, that opinion falls flat. Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, and every other player should reserve the right to make more money. In a sport where teams can cut you in a heartbeat, securing the bag makes the utmost sense.
Ironically, many fans side with teams on contract disputes. Yet, these same people walk into their boss’ office and request a raise. On the other hand, they will leave a job for a better salary elsewhere. Raise your hand, if you are content with making less than your worth. If it does not fly on Main Street, then it should not work in the locker room. People forget that playing football is a job. Additionally, a well-compensated career could end in a heartbeat. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Mack situation was the spin that Jon Gruden placed on it.
“Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to be here.”
– Jon Gruden pic.twitter.com/t1NQzF5bVo
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 10, 2018
Players should hold out for as much money as they can. The threat of long-term damage remains ever-present. Remember, players “know the risks”. So, some will place financial well-being ahead of team needs. How many of us have placed our family’s financial future ahead of a job? If that answer is not all, check yourself.
What do the Packers shareholders, Seattle’s 12th man and members of NFL nations, mafias, and kingdoms have in common? They are all voluntary distinctions with no real influence on the direction of the franchise. Yet, if you hear that segment of loudmouths, “fans pay the player’s salary” Not quite. TV networks do. Granted, attendance and ratings matter, but if you believe that a small pocket of fandom boycotting amounts to much, stop. However, some will show up at team facilities and scream at the walls or write letters to the league. In the kindest way possible, how do I say this? Fans are consumers. The NFL will remain a monster of a league. Throwing a hissy fit because your team does not do what you want is pointless. Akin to a pimple on a whale’s buttock, the NFL will do what resides in their best interests, not yours. Remember, the league exist to make 32 owners obscenely wealthy. Fandom is a voluntary pursuit. If something irks you past the point of reason, stop watching. No one forces you to indulge the NFL.
Players owe fans absolutely nothing. They do not care about perverse dedication or fantasy teams. Players gear their lives toward the game. Nothing else matters, and that is the way it should stay. Fans living in their feelings that a player showed disloyalty by wanting a raise are dumb. As a result, burn those jerseys that the player already saw royalty checks for. Meanwhile, some take fantasy football personally. Thankfully, Rams RB Todd Gurley provided insight.
Last night, the Cleveland Browns ended a streak. At the same time, the story of an NFL icon flooded the airwaves. Football, until the end of time will be a circle. For every joy, excruciating pain surfaces. While we can celebrate the success, take time and mourn the wreckage the sport leaves in its wake.