Hey guys, how you been?
Yes, it’s been a while. As you know, I’ve been grinding over at Bleacher Report covering—shockingly—the NFC North. Go figure.
I’ve really come to love that division by the way. Also, I have really come to appreciate the readership here as well—honestly we argue, but the level of discourse is great here.
Enough with the hand holding, I’m back doing NFL stuff here and thought now was as good a time as ever to re-boot this column.
We’ll be weekly from here on out, though I reserve the right to post annoying articles (informative, that’s what I meant) anytime I darn please and the Hard Count shall be emerging again real soon.
Today I wanted to talk a bit about Matt Forte and Cliff Avril. or really, the squeaky wheel and the nice guy.
You could call this NICE GUYS FINISH LAST and I wouldn’t argue.
A few times this off-season I remarked about how Avril was conducting himself in his contract negotiations. Especially in comparison with Forte who whined and complained his whole way through the process.
I praised Avril. I said, publicly and privately, that THIS is the way players should try and act.
Then last week Forte got his money and Avril did not.
The teams like to say how much they don’t want things to play in the press, how they appreciate the players and want things done professionally. The reality is though, they will walk all over players who play nice.
You want truth? The truth is that, as much as we roll our eyes when Forte or Darrelle Revis or Chris Johnson negotiate their contracts in the media, it gets the results.
Forget Avril for a minute. Look at Forte for another example.
While he wasn’t always enthusiastic about it, he played the good employee for years while the Bears used him for way below what he was worth. Former GM Jerry Angelo claimed he’d pay Forte but we’ll never know. Given history, I don’t know I believe it would have happened.
A new GM made things tougher, but after years of broken promises, why would Forte trust it would work out?
he stopped being polite and started getting loud. Call it whiny or immature but he got paid.
Avril did not.
Now, like with Forte, there are mitigating circumstances. Avril had one good year (compared to many for Forte) and has some competing depth around him.
That said, I can’t help but wonder that, if he made a big stink could he have seen the money he wanted?
By all accounts, the years were there (both sides wanted three years) but not the money. And while you or I would (probably) take whatever was offered, a player has a few short years to make his money. I can imagine not settling for less than what you’re worth.
There are always a ton of things behind the scenes we don’t know about which help or hinder negotiations.
I also firmly believe that leveraging negotiations through the press and public is effective in a way that playing nice isn’t.*
Bringing it home to the Packers readers here, I think you have to appreciate how things get done in Green Bay. How often do we hear about this nonsense with packers players (cue long list of examples I forgot)? I don’t know if it’s culture or loyalty or what but the amount of times is minimal.
Jermichael Finley is the most recent one I can think of and really, that wasn’t a ton of static. What there was mostly came from his agent, not him. (again, correct me if I am wrong)
In the NFL today a lot gets made of players chirping for new contracts and how tired we are of it. Well, don’t expect it to change on a grand scale anytime soon.
Indeed, it appears to be almost the surest way to get things done.
*This is a generalization, clearly.