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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May 21-- The Opt Out

Meet the new New York Yankees. They reside in Washington and they've never hit a home run or stolen a base. But they will be part of the biggest arms war in sports in 2 short years.

The NFL owners might be the ones who ultimately kill their own golden goose. The most successful and profitable sports league in the United States is in position to go baseball on us, radically changing the competitive landscape come 2010. The owners opted out of their current labor deal which gives the players a whooping 60 percent of all revenues.
Feeling they've conceeded too much on a group of players who leave them little recourse in terms of recouping those sums should a bad decision be made, the owners have determined to scarp the plan. The problem is when/if the current labor pact runs out, the two sides have an agreed cap less season to come. That's right, no salary cap at all..

Who would that help? Quite obviously, the Redskins and Cowboys. Both big spenders in free agency anyway (and now with Dallas set to open a state of the art gem in Arlington, TX with the league's highest seating capacity), the America's team title might belong to who's owner opens up the wallet more often.
The Giants will be opening a new stadium as well.. The frugal Eagles may be forced into a radical shift of salary spending just to keep up.
No one has spent more on free agents in the past decade then the Redskins, who in turn have had little in terms of success to show for their efforts. But in an uncapped year, they'll be able to outbid for every free agent at every position. Teams will be forced to lock players into longer term deals because small markets like Cincinnati, Green bay, etc. will have no shot retaining a star.

In vogue right now is the malcontent line. Brian Urlacher has 5 years left on his current deal yet is skipping voluntary workouts because he wants a better contract. Chad Johnson has four years left on his pact and has promised to never play for the Bengals. Waiting out a season for their teams to drop them if they hold onto their convictions would pay off in an uncapped year. They could recoop all lost wages, currently an impossibility due to cap restrictions.

Parody has been behind the continued growth and popularity of a league who had a shocking Super Bowl champ, and survived a media hyped cheating scandal by the league's standard. Nothing turns the TV needle in the industry then football Sundays and the mammoth Super Bowl viewing. The draft has even become some of ESPN's most watched programming. Yet, the league can't seem to come to terms on a long term deal in turn might allow their league to become a have and have nots landscape.

selfishly, we all know the Skins would be one of the major players in this. January football would certainly follow on a relatively annual basis. Their divisuion figures to be among the most profitable and competitive with three majoe cities with major revenue streams going against one another. But imagine the NFC South, with four smaller less competitive markets getting a playoff team with a home game in every season only to be set up for the monsters from the East..
Are pre-season games even worthwhile if the team's have no semblence of competition? Will viewing of the average NFL game decrease if the team's are perceived as being part of a caste system? How will attendence be affected in cities like New Orleans or Charlotte should their teams become glorified farm teams? What will the prices for Redskins, Cowboys, Patriots, Giants etc. tickets be should the reality of super teams emerge?

Two years is a long time for the two sides to find a happy medium. The players want more of their deals to be guaranteed. I don't blame them. The owners want easier forms of recourse should an off field incident threaten their playing status (see Mike Vick and Pac Man Jones). I don't blame them.
There are certainly better ways for both sides to achieve their assurances without letting the whole thing turn into a wild west cash grab for the big boys. Gene Upshaw promised if the owners let the league have an uncapped year, the players wouldn't agree to go back. Should that happen, we will have seen the end of the NFL as we know it. The Skins might have many Lombardi trophies to show off, but if their competitive advantage was significantly higher then 70% of the league, what does that really mean?

OK men


Blogger Unknown said...

Bram, there is an obviously unintentional, but kind of funny, error in your posting today.

"Parody has been behind the continued growth and popularity of a league..."

I'm assuming you meant parity?

2:31 PM  
Blogger Sammy James said...

When can we see you on ESPN?

12:52 PM  
Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

Dude. "Recoup." "Parity."

Great article, though.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Give Me Some Skins said...

I agree, the owners have no idea how good they have it. Saw you on ESPN NEWS this weekend. You did a great job. Can't wait to see more..

3:32 PM  
Blogger Del Greer said...

Two things-

1) We neeeeeeeeed a schedule for when we can see our hometown icon, Bram Weinstein, on the ESPN airwaves. You your rabid fans would be grateful.

2) Snyder has, in the past few days, apparently bought every single sports talk radio station in DC. Think for a minute how nice it would have been if your radio career at Red Zebra would have been on multiple stations, including those that broadcast above 28 watts. You would have been called up by ESPN years ago. Other than that, though, any thoughts?

5:38 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Goodness, gracious. I THOUGHT I saw your handsome mug recently. Congratulations!! Your gain is a huge loss for Redskins's fans. When combined with the loss of Jerry Coleman, it means that thoughtful, in-depth, day-to-day at the practice field coverage has taken a gigantic hit

10:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Um.... I swear you said you would continue to post here and there about the skins and such... So much for that...

Are they working you that hard up there in Bristol!!!

11:58 AM  

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