Yesterday we heard from both sides of the aisle about the current labor situation.
NFLPA DeMaurice Smith, apparently looking ahead to a career in politics had this to say in front an audience at his alma mater, the University of Maryland:
“The decision to pursue and if necessary fight for what is fair was a decision those players made two years ago. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s vastly different from something as simple as ‘shut up and play.’ That’s not the decision that we made. We made the decision to fight for who we were going to be and who we are.....To anybody who thinks for one minute that passion is something that is cheap and futile, I have two words for them: ‘You suck.”.......And for anybody who would ever think that it is the wrong thing to do to care so much that you’re willing to risk everything because it is right, reserve those two words for them.”
Giants' CEO John Mara published an essay airing out his sentiments and venting his frustrations. His language and presentation a tad bit more polished than Smith's:
"....there is time to get back on track. We need to resolve our differences with the players at the bargaining table, start the 2011 season on time, and set a positive course for the future of our great game.
There was no reason for the situation to come to this. The NFL's business model needs to be fixed. Of that, there is no doubt. The 2006 collective bargaining agreement was not balanced. Players have readily acknowledged they "got a great deal." Then the economy went south, adding to the problem. A fair adjustment must be negotiated in a new CBA.
Instead, the NFL Players Association walked away from mediation. It put a litigation strategy in play and filed a lawsuit declaring virtually all league rules relating to player employment as being violations of antitrust law. The union said many times it had no plans to dismantle the core elements of the collectively bargained system that has been in place since 1993.
The solution lies at the bargaining table. Everyone should realize what is at stake, especially in this economy. Right now, fans are caught in the middle listening to rhetoric and legalese they don't want to hear. That is why, as ownership and players, we must recognize our shared responsibility as stewards of the game to compromise and reach a fair agreement -- one that highly compensates players, protects their health and safety, ensures the on-field competitiveness of 32 teams, helps retired players, and improves the fan experience and fan value. The best way to get there is to let both sides exercise their labor law rights.
The current ball of confusion needs to become a football season, pronto; the kind of football season that NFL fans have grown to love and that has made our sport so popular.