With Friends Like the NFLPA…

While the players received many financial benefits from the collective bargaining agreement, they signed with the owners nine months ago — including the continuation of the practice, first sought by the union in the calamitous (for their side) strike of 1982 that infamously reduced that season from 16 games to nine (even though, where in 1982, the union demanded 55% of the owners' gross revenues, they settled for 48% this time around, up from 47% in the CBA of 2011, which stopped a lockout that had been called by the owners to limit the disruption of that season to the Hall of Fame Game) — they didn't even ask for at least three very important concessions.

The first, as mentioned previously, was an "innocent until proven guilty" clause, which would have made a player's conviction on a criminal charge, not a mere arrest or even an indictment, a necessary prerequisite for any disciplinary action by the league.

The second would have been a guarantee, not some hazy promise, that there will be a second bye week for each team, once the 17-game schedule kicks in. Among other things, this would allow for an automatic bye the week before for all teams playing a Thursday game (the short week before such games having been objected to by numerous players, such as Ben Roethlisberger — so if they say it's spinach and the hell with it, so to speak, then so should the rest of us), resulting in the pushing of the playoffs back two weeks instead of only one, meaning that the Super Bowl can henceforth be played on the Presidents' Day weekend, thus making "Super Bowl Monday" a holiday for many if not most, causing Roger Goodell's approval rating among fans to shoot off into the ionosphere (this has been a "holy grail" of sorts for the owners ever since they shamelessly exploited 9/11 as a pretext for pushing the Super Bowl into February).

For this reason, as well as the fact that a second bye week creates a 19th week of regular-season games, and with it, the television revenue thus derived (if two extra playoff games are expected to create an additional $150 million worth of revenue for the owners, then imagine how much a second full slate of extra regular-season games, on top of the first full such slate that comes bundled with the 17-game schedule, will generate), it is assumed that the owners will in fact proceed with this — but we all know what Felix Unger said in that episode of The Odd Couple about people who assume.

The union's third glaring omission was highlighted by the suspension first of two star Texans players — wide receiver Will Fuller V (wonder if his son's name is Will Fuller VI) and cornerback Bradley Roby — on November 30, to be joined by ex-Houston cornerback (now with Denver) A.J. Bouye, nine days later — following their positive tests for an unnamed "performance-enhancing drug" which, from appearances, is not even a controlled substance, although it does require a doctor's prescription.

And if it is true that this mystery substance is not a controlled substance at all, then how "performance-enhancing" could it possibly be? What's next — suspending players for drinking Mountain Dew, which is loaded with caffeine, before or during a game?

Yet a positive test for marijuana — still a Schedule I controlled substance (the most restrictive category, in which heroin can also be found), despite the growing number of states that are defying federal law by legalizing it, either for "medical" or "recreational" use, or both — no longer results in a suspension under the new CBA.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith must have been under the influence of a controlled substance himself — probably Quaalude (which was placed in Schedule I in 1984) — when he negotiated the new CBA with the owners.

What good is a pay raise for a player who has been arbitrarily and capriciously suspended without pay? And is it really necessary to rub Fuller's, Roby's, and Bouye's noses in it by extending their suspensions into Week 1 of next season, particularly when, in this case, the suspensions are so, how shall we say, ticky-tacky?

Under the influence of something or not, DeMaurice Smith was clearly asleep at the switch.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site