This morning we discussed a very important and somewhat overlooked part of the current labor fight: the battle between Big Market Owners and Small Market Owners over shared revenue. This afternoon we get back into it and talk about how this puts us in this mess we're in today.
One of the strengths of the NFL—one of the very foundations of it's success—is the fact that at the beginning of the season, pretty much everyone has a shot at a Super Bowl. At the very least you know that financials play a lot smaller part in a championship, compared to baseball.
Every fan knows their team is in it and if that team plays well and is coached well, they can win.
Now what if we're just talking about the Pats and Jets and Dallas and Philly? Every. Single. Year.
I mean, we're already sick of the Pats and they aren't even winning Super Bowls yearly.
What if you knew that your team could never afford to build a team ala George Steinbrenner? That while Kraft and Jerry Jones acquired every good player under the sun, Jacksonville knew going in that it was never going to be able to compete financially and worse, every great home-grown player would eventually play so good as to price the Jags out of the running for his services.
Is that a little hyperbole for effect? Maybe.
It's certainly not inconceivable that things would continue on just as they are and maybe the elimination of the revenue sharing would go by with little impact.
I'd say it is far more likely, however, that eventually even teams like Indianapolis would fade away from contention because they'd never be able to compete with the bigger market teams.
How could they keep a rookie Manning after his first contract? Or to keep it current: Would Josh Freeman be in Tampa after his contract plays out?
Before you start talking about loyalty, let me point out two things.
First, that's exactly what people complain about in baseball. No loyalty to a team. A team drafts you, moves you through the minors, gives you a shot and you reward them by running off to the highest bidder.
For crying out loud the Yankees and Red Sox have had players move between them. More than once. They HATE each other.
Money is money.
Secondly—and more importantly— how loyal are teams? Consider that a team can cut a player in the NFL with virtually no repercussions. Contracts are not guaranteed (as they are in other sports) so you can get canned at any time and not see another dime.
How loyal do you think a player will be to a team who can cut him pretty much whenever he wants? Especially if another team will pay him more and up front? Why be loyal when the other side isn't?
That's what has happened in other sports and I find it very hard to believe we wouldn't start seeing the same thing pretty quickly.
It'd start with the lower level and mid-range players.
Guys who might already be prone to move already, like Santana Moss or Johnny Knox. No big deal, right? Moss already has moved, Knox isn't a game breaker and neither is really tied to the franchise in the public's mind.
Nobody thinks of either one as a Redskin or Bear, not like you tie Manning to the Colts or Brady to the Pats.
You'd see movement though and probably more and more of it as players saw teams willing to overpay.
They would, by the way. They already do it now when everyone has the same amount of cash to work with.
Eventually bigger names—and names more integral to franchises—would jump ship.
In a landscape where Brett Favre played for not one but two teams not in Green Bay and where there have been rumors that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady could get moved it's not impossible to imagine.
While a team like the Patriots could survive that (likely by signing Manning) could the Colts? I wonder.
I don't want to go all 'zombie apocalypse' on you but how quickly would Buffalo or Jacksonville fall apart? How quickly might San Diego or Houston follow? After that, would Green Bay, Indy or Minnesota falter?
Parity which is key to the league's ability to flourish and not just here on the home front, but abroad as well.
As PackersRS pointed out in the last article's comments, globalization has changed the game.
The idea of expanding the league's influence overseas has really opened up the ability for a smaller market team to make money if they have the ability to capture a market.
As RS points out, the Packers have built their brand up—though I can't speak for it worldwide currently—and there is opportunity to make money in foreign markets.
Putting aside the Packers debate for a minute, we can all agree that some teams like the Cowboys, Raiders and Patriots have a much larger global presence than the Bills, the Dolphins and Titans.
If some of the big market owners are balking at continuing the revenue sharing already in place, one can imagine them going apoplectic over sharing the whole world.
Which brings us back to the heart of this matter. Some of the bigger market owners do not want to share. They don't want to prop up the smaller franchises anymore especially when we start talking worldwide money.
Like I said in the last article, I don't blame them for it anymore than I blame a shark for eating a surfer—we're so damned tasty.
I do however repeat that it is tremendously short-sighted.
The problem comes when an owner like Mara or Rooney, who are big market owners and old school powerhouses in the owners circle, won't budge because they know that long-term the revenue sharing is necessary for the prosperity the league is seeing.
And make no mistake—no matter how often the owners cry poor, the league is making money hand over fist. Costs may have risen but the league is prosperous.
Owners like Mara and Rooney wield power over many of the other owners (that comes with respect earned by not being a jerk, something some owners might want to learn how to do) and make it unlikely that revenue sharing will die for some time.
And here we are.
I can't say that the bigger market franchises are behind this labor strife with certainty. It feels that way and the logic adds up. I've no proof though.
Still, it seems to me that some owners might have perceived the players and their wallets as an easier target then their fellow owners.
They were wrong and what's worse is that almost no matter what the outcome of this is, the real problem—how the pie is cut and who gets a slice—will remain.
Everyone keeps saying how foolish it is that the players and owners can't figure a way to split nine billion dollars.
The truth is, it's even more foolish that the owners can't figure a way to split their huge portion of it.
while I was working on this, someone turned me on to a great series of pieces at BloggingtheBoys.com. Check them out.
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