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An NFL without a salary cap could make fans the biggest losers…

March 5, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Sports, Weekly Columns

( In perhaps a sign of these economically stressful times, the National Football League Players Association is clamoring for the restoration of a $123 million per-team, league-wide salary cap as the official start of the free-agent signing period dawns. Meanwhile football owners seem intent on standing idly by while costly concerns twist aimlessly in the wind.

This week officially marks the close of the league’s long-held labor agreement, assuring that for the first time since 1993 all 32 NFL teams will operate without a mandated salary cap. Essentially, that renders more than 200 players — franchise play-makers such as Julius Peppers, Carlos Dansby, Dunta Robinson, Darren Sharper and Darren Sproles, to name a few — free agents of one sort or another, open to procuring the very best deals for themselves offered for their vast and varied services.

On the surface, this would seem to suggest that the teams most willing to reinvest in fielding the very best teams possible are poised to make the most significant gains between this season and last.

But alas, theory and practice are not always joined at the hip. A key factor to remember is that owners opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2008 based on a series of fundamental concerns. For instance, they argued that players’ 60 percent share of revenues was simply too steep for them to continue profitably slicing up all that cheddar.

If that was their stance then what might you expect it to be now, legitimate or not, in the midst of the great recession?

To a man, maybe that’s why the refrain among players seems to be better to at least have some structure or concept of just how and how much you’re assured of being compensated than to simply leave matters to the whims of a selfish slate of somewhat conspiratorial owners.

The would-be, clear-cut losers in it all? Try you and I, along with the 106.5 million mostly die-hard NFL fans that tuned in last month and made Super Bowl XLIV the most widely viewed television program in the history. Besides, can there really be any losers when the conflict centers around how best to fairly distribute the the spoils of a multi-billion dollar industry?

What is the fans’ reward for building this empire? How about the growing prospect of a work stoppage as early as next year, the likelihood of which was recently characterized as a “14” on a 1-10 scale by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

In perhaps the understatement of this growing season of discontentment, Washington Redskins wide receiver Antwaan Randle El told The Associated Press. “We like the agreement the way it is.” He later added owners, “want us to go back to the ’70s,” before the current free agency system started.

The fact of the matter is no one seems certain just where things will go from here. Not the players, not the owners and certainly not us the fans.

Written By Glenn Minnis

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