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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The NFL is Back - Why I’m Not Excited
Monday, September 12, 2011

This NFL came back this past weekend from a lockout that didn’t take a single game away from anyone, so it’s almost hard to say it left us. They’re hyping it like it did, but nobody actually missed any football unless they’re the type that stay glued to their seats wondering who accidentally tapped the quarterback at their respective team’s training camp (stay away from the red jersey. For the love of God stay away from the red jersey!). I’m a huge football fan. Have been for the vast majority of my life. I’m not, however, excited about the 2011 NFL season, and this is because the only issues that were resolved with the new agreement between owners and players had to do with how much of a piece of the pie each would receive, and once again the fans, the retired players, and the health of the current players, were ignored.

The NFL, along with ESPN, are pitching the new NFL season in a “we’re back for YOU” kind of way, and it upsets me. The NFL isn’t back for us, the fans, it’s back for our money. Nowhere in that $8 billion dollar agreement did the fans get anything other than the right to see more NFL football. Bear in mind that $8 billion in profit is OUR money. If you’ve ever bought a jersey, a hat, a ticket, a TV package, or something advertised during a game, you’ve contributed to that pool, and it’s a pretty big pool for the two groups to fight over. Never during the negotiations did anyone say “that’s a lot of profit. We could probably survive on $6 billion. Let’s give something back to the fans who’ve made us the most popular sport in the country. Some are spending their entire paychecks on us.” We weren’t thought of AT ALL.

As fans we’re not being given a break on regular season ticket prices, pre-season games, concessions, or parking. Although the latter two are oftentimes controlled by the venue, many NFL teams own their venues, and I know from speaking with concert organizers that venues can be bargained with, so an NFL owner could say, “here’s $400,000, make all hot dogs a buck,” and the venue will do it if they feel it will meet their profit goals. Worst of all, PSLs still exist. For those who are lucky enough to not have to deal with PSLs, they’re Personal Seating Licenses, which are something fans have to pay in order to have the right to buy season tickets. Basically, teams aren’t happy with just selling out the stadium every week, so they’re getting people to pay literally thousands of dollars extra just so they can spend thousands on season tickets, and the real kicker is the ticket holders are then made to buy the tickets to the pre-season games so the owners can make even more. Currently 14 NFL teams have PSLs, or something similar to them (and let me say it’s really ballsy for the Bengals to ask their fans to pay anything, let alone EXTRA, to watch that team play), and if they sound a little illegal, that’s because they basically are.

The Mafia has historically done something called racketeering. The most popular racket being that of the protection variety where they make a business pay them so the Mafia folks will protect the business from robbers, which, of course, would be the Mafia folks. The Wikipedia entry on racketeering explains it as such: “(it) indicates a belief that it is engaged in the sale of a solution to a problem that the institution itself creates or perpetuates, with the specific intent to engender continual patronage.” Sound just a little bit like Personal Seating Licenses? Pardon me if I don’t believe the NFL came back “for the fans.”

The retired players were also not given much of anything in the new agreement between players and owners, unless you consider a thousand to $1,500 a month for living with injuries that will never go away a fair shake. Not only is that number embarrassingly low when one considers how much profit the current players and owners are raking in, the retired players don’t even trust the NFLPA to pay it.

Finally, the active players did themselves no favors by not insisting on better health care in the labor agreement. Concussions are a part of sports, and a huge part of football. Many concussions go unreported due to players wanting to “tough it out.” Now that some of the long term effects of “toughing it out” are coming to light, it appears more than ever that ideology is akin to “being an idiot.” Seventy five retired players aren’t happy with the lack of concussion awareness, and in a lawsuit they’re claiming the NFL hid facts about concussions from them. The current players are still “toughing it out” and apparently cared less about their ability to spell their name later in life than a couple million in their bank accounts right now.

If you add to all that that the fact that two of the most popular quarterbacks in the game are a guy who’s been accused of rape more than once and a guy who’s been convicted of murdering animals, while the good guys are all but ignored, I just can’t get into this NFL.

Sorry NFL, I don’t believe you came back for the fans. I don’t believe you care about your retired players, and I don’t believe you care enough about your active players to protect them from themselves. I can’t deny that a game will probably be on in the background at my house on most Sundays, but just know I’m going to care about that game about as much as you care about me.

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