NFL holdouts: Don’t hate the players, hate the system

Terrell Owens, Javon Walker, Grady Jackson, Richard Seymour and Shaun Alexander. What do all these players have in common? They are all holding out from training camp because of contract disputes.

All they want is more money. Doesn’t that sound just a little selfish? That’s what the owners of the league would like you to believe, and they have been successful.

Many fans I know consider NFL players-especially the ones holding out for more money-to be snide and selfish spoiled-brats just looking for a way to earn more cash for playing football.

But in reality it’s the owners that are taking advantage of the players, considering the way collective bargaining agreement is structured.

There is no such thing as a guaranteed contract in the NFL. The only guaranteed money comes through signing bonuses. That means a team can cut a player and not have to pay him any more money left on the contract.

This leaves the players with barely any insurance on the money they have signed for, and they are essentially playing for their contract year-by-year.

The owners, on the other hand, have the ability to cut the dead weight and only have to deal with cap penalties but not with paying the players.

So now the players are fighting back. What’s wrong with that?

If an owner can come up to a player after one bad season and tell him that he is no longer part of the team, what’s the problem with the player coming back to the owner after a good year and wanting more money?

It’s blatant hypocrisy, and that’s why I don’t care if a player holds out for more money.

The owners have the majority of the bargaining power in just about every professional league because they sign the checks.

In most of the labor wars I have seen in the sporting world, the owners come out on top. Look at the NHL. The players are about to sign a terrible deal as compared to the one offered in February because they don’t have enough bargaining power.

The sport may be the owners’ product, but that doesn’t mean the owners should be allowed to exploit the players.

Holding out in the NFL is a way to fight back against the exploitation and lack of loyalty in a contract.

Someone might say the players allow themselves to be exploited by accepting and signing contracts without guarantees, but what choice do they have? The players are not going to strike and take a hit in their pay.

The exploitation doesn’t stop at the contract disputes in the NFL. In the NBA, high school players under 19 years old are no longer allowed to come straight into the NBA. They can go into the NBDL for development, but that’s about it.

But that’s better for the overall product, isn’t it? Who the hell wants to see players from high school sitting on the bench for three years before they get to play?

So what do owners do? They capitalize on fans’ sentiments and establish their free training ground in the NCAA. Instead of paying players in the NBA, they allow the NCAA to capitalize on star athletes, and, in the end, who sees the short end of the stick? The athlete.

Regardless of whether you agree with the system or not, the players are merely trying to work with the few bargaining chips they have left.

Fans shouldn’t blame the players for wanting more money. They are looking out for themselves, which is exactly the course of action anyone would take if he or she were in the same situation.

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