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FRANTZ: NFL lockout means bad news for Browns fans

Published: Thursday, August 12, 2010



Morning Journal Guest Columnist


Without any factual data or even informal surveys to back it up, I think it’s fair to say that the most frequently asked question in all of Northeast Ohio from late spring into early summer each year, as the Indians’ season goes into the tank and the Cavaliers make their early exit from the playoffs is, “When do the Browns start?”


Well, Cleveland fans had better hope for an NBA title run for the Cavs next year, and a deep summer of contention for the Tribe because it’s a virtual certainty that there will be no upcoming Browns’ season to look forward to in 2011.


With the league’s current collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season, and the owners and players are about as close to an agreement as LeBron James is to being awarded a key to the city of Cleveland, a lockout is all but assured. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a popular target in the ongoing blame game that is becoming more than just a mild distraction as the 2010 season kicks off, and billionaire owners are not far behind. And while both of those entities have more than their share of flaws when it comes to reaching a peaceful accord, I’m blaming the players.


The owners have claimed that escalating costs are forcing them to take a harder stand on player salaries in the next CBA. In response, newly acquired Browns’ linebacker Scott Fujita echoed the sentiments of other player reps last week when Goodell visited Berea as part of his training camp tour, demanding that NFL owners “open their books” before any meaningful negotiations can take place.


“If profits are down, if profits are up, if profits are flat,” Fujita said after meeting with the commissioner. “Let us know, then we can talk. What’s the harm in opening up the books?”


Perhaps I’m missing something here, but the question I have for the players is, “Why is the owners’ profit margin any of your business?”


The players are guaranteed 59.6 percent of the owners’ total revenue in the current CBA. Why?


There is a fundamental message that I think all NFL players need to get: This is not a partnership. This is an employer/employee relationship. You are the employees, and the owners are the bosses. If you don’t like the terms of your employment, find another job.


Now I haven’t been party to any job interviews or offers of employment at Microsoft recently, but I’m guessing that when an experienced systems analyst or software engineer applies for a position there, they don’t get to demand that Bill Gates show his company’s balance sheet before deciding to accept a salary or not. More likely, the guy in the big leather chair tells him “This is what the job pays. Do you want it?” The applicant has a choice. Take it or leave it.


Simple, isn’t it?


As sports fans, we love our players. We cheer them, we support them, we ask for their autographs, and we celebrate like little kids when they score touchdowns or sack quarterbacks. I know, because of I’m one of them.


But what I’d really like to know is why some of these guys feel as though they have the right to be business partners with club owners simply because they can cover 40 yards in 4.3 seconds?


Clearly, the talents and skills that NFL players possess have an extraordinary value, which is why they are compensated as generously as they are. But the ability to bench press 225 lbs. 37 times and to knock other men senseless does not make one a business owner, or a business partner, with men who have spent their entire lives using their own business savvy and training to amass the fortunes necessary to own NFL franchises.


Fujita and the other player reps do have a point on the issue of expanding the NFL season. There is a movement toward eliminating 2 preseason games, while adding 2 regular season games to the existing 16-game schedule. Certainly we all have the right to expect extra compensation for doing extra work. But just as surely as they are willing to take, they must be willing to give.


For example, the rookie pay scale needs to be fixed, but the players want nothing to do with it because they all benefit from it. When an untested rookie like QB like Sam Bradford can collect $50 million guaranteed on sheer potential, how ridiculously high will the salaries go for the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who have already proven their worth?


It’s an escalating pay scale with each fresh crop of hot shot rookies, with a domino effect benefitting established veterans, and there’s no end in sight. Try and remember that next fall when there’s nothing to do on Sunday afternoons and Browns’ Stadium stands empty. The owners are right to take a stand



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I actually couldn't agree more. There definately needs to be significant changes made. In particular to the rookie salary structure. Or lack of one that is! I want football to continue without a lockout. If there is one though I would understand why.

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