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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Burwell: NFL keeps wielding its big stick ..

    BY BRYAN BURWELL May 25, 2011 12:05 am

    Every day this NFL lockout drags on, the more preposterous it seems to get. One act of peculiarity is quickly followed by an inexplicable moment of frustration, then finished off by an unfortunate example of blatant hypocrisy that all poignantly illustrate why there's absolutely no good reason why the owners insist on keeping the players out of work.

    So here we were Tuesday afternoon and the strangeness wouldn't stop. In the parking lot in front of Rams Park, a handful of assistant coaches were returning from lunch. As they piled out of a big SUV, they marched neatly shoulder to shoulder back into the complex like orderly Swiss guards — which seemed to be perfect, because now they all are good soldiers drilling endlessly with no particular battle to fight.

    The coaches have no one to coach. Every day, it's the same routine. They just go back into the building, and no doubt dig into a bunch of earnest but frustrating busy work.

    Meanwhile just a five-minute drive away on the artificial surface of Lindenwood's Harlen Hunter Stadium, their locked-out players were going through their unofficial mini-camp workouts, with the veterans and rookies going through pages of a new playbook on their own.

    All very peculiar. All rather frustrating.

    Coaches with no one to coach. Players with no games to play. All of them are stuck in the middle of a rather costly gambit by the NFL owners who have decided to basically sabotage the on-field development of their players in order to win the war at the collective bargaining table. They do not particularly care now about the folks who work on the football side of their multibillion-dollar enterprise any more than they care about the folks who buy the tickets, pay outrageous ransoms for personal seating licenses, give them endless tax breaks and work in and around their luxury stadiums for less-than-lucrative wages.

    I still am rooting for an end to the lockout, still hoping the courts will ultimately side with the players and realize that the best thing for the fans who pay for the games and overpriced jerseys is to make sure that the NFL keep its doors open for business.

    Some of you might think the NFL owners are in the football business. But every time I see scenes like this, I know how much they have lost sight of that. This lockout isn't about the football business. It's just about big business.


    But they skillfully act as if someone is doing this to them, as if the players are creating this madness, and how they have been forced into this lockout at gunpoint. But as Rams offensive tackle Adam Goldberg pointed out Tuesday, the players knew the lockout was coming for a long time. It didn't matter what the players did or said. A lockout always was the owners' big bat and they were going to swing it.

    "Did I think it would last this long without there being a rock-solid, long-term agreement? Yes, this is what we prepared for," Goldberg said. "We've been saying for 2˝ years that we're preparing for a lockout. Even back when league representatives and people were saying: 'What? Lockout? We haven't even thought of that.' "

    Of course the owners thought about a lockout. They think of everything. And one of the things they think and continue to count on is a sporting public that won't ever bother to see through the financial games they always play and win.

    You might be familiar with those games. It's called municipal blackmail and no one plays it better than the NFL, because the owners always know if your city isn't willing to pay the price, there's always Los Angeles lurking in the western horizon.

    It's a game they always will win because everyone wants an NFL franchise and every city is going to do whatever it takes to get or keep one.

    I don't begrudge them for this because if you have the big bat, swing it. I want to see the Rams stay in St. Louis for as long as possible and I hope eventually the good civic leaders in this area find the proper stadium solution to satisfy Stan Kroenke's business desires.

    But every once in a while the NFL needs to be called on the arrogance it wields like a weapon.

    Tuesday was another one of those days.

    At the owners' meetings in Indianapolis, the NFL canceled next month's rookie symposium because of the lockout. League spokesman Greg Aiello said the decision was made because of "the uncertainty of the labor issues we are facing and the logistical challenges of conducting the symposium."

    The symposium, which was scheduled to begin June 26 in Canton, Ohio, is supposed to be a great teaching tool to indoctrinate rookies on dealing with the radical life changes that come with becoming a professional football player. They are taught about coping with finances and the complexities of their new professional lifestyle. I have been to these symposiums and I can tell you how beneficial they are to the young men who are walking into a brave new world.

    Remember last month when the league went out of its way to guilt-trip its new rookies into participating in every aspect of the draft? Remember how they made it seem like it would be a horrible disservice to every one of these kids if they were denied a chance to walk onto that big stage in New York and give the commissioner a big hug on national TV?

    Last month, the rookies were essential props for the nationally-televised reality show the league was producing, and the league made sure the players were there.

    Lockout be damned, the show must go on, right?

    Well now that the televised portion of your rookie experience is over, we don't need you.

    See you later.

    Nothing personal. It's just business.

    Ouch !!!

  2. #2
    BrokenWing's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: NFL keeps wielding its big stick ..

    Man this guy is as biased as they come.

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    Re: Burwell: NFL keeps wielding its big stick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenWing View Post
    Man this guy is as biased as they come.
    My thoughts exactly. But, then again, maybe he feels he has to be in order to ensure his continued access to the players. After all a sportswriter that is shunned by the players wouldn't have much to write about would he?


  4. #4
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    Re: Burwell: NFL keeps wielding its big stick ..

    Nothing personal. It's just business.
    Yes, Burwell, it IS business. The NFL is a business. And because it's a business, you, my biased friend, have a career. Speaking of your career, if you approached it as a business rather than personal, you might carry some amount of credibility when you write. But that will never happen as long as you keep spewing this populist nonsense peppered with libelous attacks (reference attack on Limbaugh "quotes" during the owner transition).

    You act indignant that the owner's would be concerned with....(GASP)! Egad, how cruel! Don't be so naive, Bryan. If the NFL didn't make money for the shareholders, there would be no NFL. And you would have to go back to kissing Bonds backside.

  5. #5
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: NFL keeps wielding its big stick ..

    Biased and ignorant. Bad combination.

    Bottom line: the NFLPA made a mistake in "decertifying" and taking the matter to court. All that did was remove the parties from the bargaining table and delay the proceedings. In the end, the Appellate Court is almost certain to rule that the lockout should not be enjoined, and the parties will end up where they should have started: the bargaining table.

    There are many villains and few innocents in this story but, at this point, I'd have to say the person who is the biggest obstacle to a resolution is DeMaurice Smith, who designed the NFLPA's ill-advised strategy.
    Last edited by AvengerRam; -05-26-2011 at 12:18 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Burwell: NFL keeps wielding its big stick ..

    Don't forget everyone... it's perfectly ok for the players to strike, decertify and sue(with a lawsuit that will destroy the entire NFL in my opinion if it actually wins), and demand to forever get a better and better deal to the point where they won't even respond to offers on the table. But if the owners do anything to try to gain the slightest bit of leverage or to get a better deal for themselves, it's absolutely evil.

    The way I look at it is this: the owners gave an offer on the last day of negotiations. Was it late? Sure, but does it take more than about 5 minutes to extend the CBA another week? For all the money that they were getting paid, the lawyers on both sides should have arrived on that last day with the documents to extend the negotations. But the decision had already been made by the players. They wanted to be locked out and go through litigation. Well, the top of the NFLPA wanted to do that, I doubt the rank and file did. Did I mention at the surprise that the media had at everything that the owners gave to the players in that offer?

    Then, after the lockout was enjoined, then replaced, the owners and players negotiated for a couple days, where the owners presented a second offer. Not the same offer, but a second one which from my understanding was NOT worse than the one previous, despite the signs that the lockout may stand. Again, the players spurned the offer and refuse to negotiate.

    If the PLAYERS really wanted football, they would be at the table or at least would look at the owners' offers. If the OWNERS really wanted football, they would set up a negotiation, and attend in full, whether the players showed up or not. In fact, they would invite any and all players to come with their agents, whether or not they were part of the litigation, a team rep, or just another guy and hear out the offer. Both sides are still in the wrong, but the owners seem to at least be trying. The players are not.
    I believe!

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