As promised, let's get into Roger Goodell's latest attempt to play the Sad Wise Man who just doesn't understand why his counterparts are so willing to blow up his perfect world. Why don't they see? Roger Goodell is beginning to sound like a buttoned up, suit-wearing version Taylor at the end of Planet of the Apes.
Let's get into some of his quotes from the interview in question.
1. "I think it's a positive whenever you're negotiating, but clearly the litigation strategy that the union is pursuing is delaying some serious negotiations that really are going to lead to a collective bargaining agreement. That part of it is frustrating. I think valuable time is escaping us, that's putting financial risk and other risk in play. That's unfortunate for, most importantly, our fans, but also for our players and clubs."
First of all, I love the fact that Goodell always mentions the fans first. It is a mantra the Ownership (of which the Commissioner is undoubtedly an arm of) to always mention that the FANS WILL SUFFER!! Also, that he never calls the Owners the Owners, but always "clubs" or "teams". But when he says those words, he means the "owners". I'm guessing "owners" doesn't test well in their Market Research.
Of course, if the owners hadn't opted out of the old CBA, we would have guaranteed football this year. It is the owners who were looking to take a Billion Dollars of salary away from the players. But never you mind that! It is the players who are being jerks, for fighting that, and having the nerve to go to the legal system!
Secondly, the NFL Ownership has a great reason to dislike litigation. They lose. All the time. Look at the USA Today timeline, and look for all the court cases the NFL has won over the players. You'll be looking for a while. Hell, remember that American Needle case? That one, the NFL had won, and kept pushing for a greater antitrust exemption, and eventually got kneecapped. Outside of Bellerophon, you'd have a harder time coming up with a more classic definition of hubris than the NFL Owners.
Let's not forget, again, that the owners opened this can of worms, by backing out of the CBA, by attempting to take $1 Billion Dollars away, and by planning for this lockout for years (hell, we were talking about it in 2009, and we aren't sharpest sheds in the ax.)
2. "They're challenging fundamental aspects that have made the league successful and popular with the fans. They're going after the draft, as an example, pursuing the draft as illegal. They're pursuing free agency restrictions as illegal. They're pursuing aspects of the salary cap as illegal. That's what they're saying. We don't believe that. It's been negotiated. We think they've been good for the players, the clubs and, most importantly, the fans. It's what's created a successful product. So the union attorneys are attacking everything that we think has made the league successful."
Most importantly, the fans! Oh, Roger. You would be so much more trustworthy if I believed you could pass a Turing Test.
But seriously folks, Goodell is complaining that the entity that was the NFLPA is now pursuing their legal case as hard as they can, just as the NFL did against American Needle, or has done against the players of the NFL, time and time again. It is blatant hypocrisy to complain about seeking satisfaction from the courts when you are a representative of a business that did the exact same thing a year before.
Look, the players aren't really trying to overthrow the draft, they are just attempting to show that they could. And you know what? They actually have a pretty good argument. Let's say that you or I, instead of being some Liberal Arts dickwad, went to the best Law School in the country, and graduated Summa Cum Laude. After making some really gross orgasm jokes*, we would have our pick of jobs--as a top potential lawyer in the land, it would be up to us. Top firms would be fighting for our talents, and we would be compensated very, very well. We would not be drafted, and forced to work for the worst Law Firm in the Country (Guy, Kumin, & Phace). Only in the world of professional sports are you forced to go to work for a specific employer, or simply not work. This isn't a fight the NFL wants. Which is why Goodell isn't saying the Draft System is super legal, and the players are crazy to go after it, when it is so obviously legal. He says, "It's been negotiated."
What the players are saying is, "If you try to take $1 Billion Dollars of salary from us, we will fight you." Which they should do. Goodell can whine about it all he wants, and he should--that's his job. But at the end of the day, the owners picked this fight, and they need to realize that they are now losing it, get over it, and get to work placating their Golden Gooses.
*Summa Cum Laude? When I was working them, they all did! And so on.