The NFL Becoming a Players League Debate… Maintaining a Delicate Balance

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless

I have not been impressed with the actions of many players around the NFL recently.

For example, the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings quit on their coaches, Wade Phillips and Brad Childress. They weren’t happy with the way things were going early in the season, and so these so-called professionals allowed locker room politics to affect their play on the field. As a fan, I am furious that these professional athletes were allowed to get away with anything less than their very best.

Once their respective coaches were fired, though, they magically became successful teams on the field again. Hardly a coincidence.

There were several marquis holdouts this year. Darrelle Revis, Vincent Jackson, and Logan Mankins are but a few names you will find on the list of those players who sat out some portion of the season.

In Denver, Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler both managed to orchestrate their own trades from the Broncos, and Brett Favre has danced around retirement for three years, now, stringing several different franchises along while he waffled in his decisions.

Yes, players have been commanding a lot of attention in the NFL. And with the new CBA upcoming, the NFLPA is actively working to secure new rights for the players of the league.

But to declare that the NFL is following the NBA in becoming a league controlled by the players is a gross overstatement.

Players will always test the boundaries of a league. I do not blame them at all. The system in the NFL is structured in such a way that the players in the NFL are allowed to hold out on their contracts and demand trades. I may not agree with the system, but I cannot blame the players for taking advantage of the system as it exists today.

There is a difference between players maximizing the system as it exists today, and players taking over control of the league.

Sure, Darrelle Revis was able to hold out in his contract, and ended up getting himself a better deal from the New York Jets. But for every Darrelle Revis, there is an Albert Haynesworth.

Haynesworth, owner of the most lucrative defensive contract in the history of the NFL, was just suspended for the remainder of the season for conduct detrimental to his team. What was that conduct, you ask? He did the exact same thing that Darrelle Revis did – he did not abide by the terms of his contract.

In a player’s league, Haynesworth’s actions would have been accommodated, his demands met, and his new coach silenced. He is (or was) one of the premier players in the league, is a major difference maker when he is on the field, and a franchise in a player’s league would never dream of upsetting an athlete of his caliber, especially after investing the amount of money that the Redskins did in acquiring him.

Or how about Vincent Jackson? After a Pro Bowl season a year ago, Jackson felt that he deserved a much more lucrative contract, but the San Diego Chargers disagreed. This situation became very nasty as the weeks passed by, and Jackson was very public in his criticism of the Chargers’ organization. Tensions grew to such a heated point that many assumed Jackson would never wear a Chargers uniform again.

Well, the Chargers called his bluff, and guess who suited up for San Diego against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago.

These are just the most recent examples where player egos and demands are being held in check. Unlike the NBA, where players like LeBron James have completely hijacked the league, the NFL has an established system which allows players room to negotiate, but still retains enough control to ensure that the players’ demands would never endanger the overall stability of the league.

It is the give and take of those player/owner negotiations which create a balanced system to the benefit of everyone involved.

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