NFLPA decertifies, will be to blame for any disruption in football

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The NFL Players Association decertified on Friday in an effort to block a lockout by the owners after the two sides failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.

According to a statement released by the NFLPA, they “will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.”

The head of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, said “significant differences continue to remain,” between the players and owners.

My stance on this labor dispute was, is and will continue to be with the owners. This is their league, these are their teams, and the extra money they’re looking to collect from the $9 billion revenue is for the purposes of further developing this sport that we Americans so dearly love.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has been actively involved in the negotiations, has been addressing NFL fans through his Twitter account with the intention of drumming up support for the players.

“To our fans – I give you my word that we as players are doing everything we can to negotiate with the NFL towards a fair deal,” Brees tweeted early Friday.

Drew, who is to say what’s fair? You? I’m sorry, but it’s not your call to make.

Says Brees: “Past players sacrificed a great deal to give us what we have now in the NFL, and we will not lay down for a second to give that up.”

Nobody forced you or any former players to take that risk. It was each and every player’s choice to risk their body and their health. If you don’t like it, step aside and let someone else play. Go get a real, 9-5 job instead.

“Not once have the players asked for more money during this negotiation. That is a FACT. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for us,” Brees added in another tweet.

Not many people do feel sorry, Drew. The owners are asking that you take a pay cut. God forbid, you join the thousands of Americans who have lost money in the recent recession. Just be thankful you have jobs. But if you keep fighting for something that you really don’t deserve, you’re going to be like the other thousands of Americans who are unemployed.

It’s about frugal spending. Someone who makes $5 million a year should be spending and saving it — percentage-wise — as wisely as someone who makes $50,000 a year. It’s the players’ own fault if a pay cut means they can’t afford all their luxuries they purchased. That happens to Americans of all incomes all the time. If the middle class has to adjust its lifestyle to deal with uncertain income, so do professional athletes and the rest of the upper class.

The players don’t have much leverage, this I’ve stressed many times before. The pecking order of power in professional sports is fans, owners, players. Without fans, there is no sport. Without owners, there are no leagues and teams, although there are enough wealthy people in the country to replace current owners.

The reason players are third on the power list is because they can be replaced. Sure, those who are employed with the National Football League are the best football players in the world, and if they were to be replaced, the product would weaken.

But I would much rather watch less talented players beat the snot out of each other on Sundays than not have any football to watch at all. I’m not going to stop watching football if Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Lance Briggs, Darrelle Revis, Ed Reed or any of the other best players in the league are out of jobs.

Players are pawns in a chess game; they can be replaced and are interchangeable. They need to realize that it’s a privilege to play professional sports, it’s not their right. They were given God-given talents but not the God-given right to play professional football.

Playing professional football is not one of the “unalienable rights” of which Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence.

When football teams take the field on a Sunday afternoon, the majority of the fans are rooting for the uniforms on the field, not really the men who are wearing them. That explains why fans will cheer for a player when he’s wearing their uniform and boo him later in his career if he’s wearing a different one.

Time is also not on the players’ sides. Aside from a few geezer owners who are nearing the ends of their lives, the players’ career windows will end much sooner than the owners’ lives will.

Those players who are currently in their mid-thirties have to be feeling the pressure. They don’t have much time left and any kind of prolonged legal battle over a new CBA will cost them valuable time. In a sport in which the average career doesn’t last very long, time is not an asset for players.

Let’s face it: players are powerless pawns. And whether you’re a fan who sides with them or not, the owners have the ultimate leverage.

And if there is some sort of work stoppage that cuts into the 2011 season, it’s the millionaires that are to blame more than the billionaires.

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