Yesterday afternoon U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson made a ruling that sparked a pointed response from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The judge ordered NFL team owners to end their month-old player lockout.
While some of the mid to low level NFL players are reported to be splintering, Nelson issued the order in a suit filed by 10 huge named players including: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. She must have taken one look at Brady’s flowing locks and melted.
Judge Nelson sided with the players as they accused the league of violating federal antitrust law. As expected the owners have moved towards an appeal. But this ruling is a significant blow to the owners. Roger Goodell believes it’s a significant blow to the future of the NFL.
In an article written by Goodell, the commissioner says if the players get what they want, the result will only be beneficial for a handful of people. Specifically, Goodell writes in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal: “Rather than address the challenge of improving the collective-bargaining agreement for the benefit of the game, the union-financed lawsuit attacks virtually every aspect of the current system including the draft, the salary cap and free-agency rules, which collectively have been responsible for the quality and popularity of the game for nearly two decades. A union victory threatens to overturn the carefully constructed system of competitive balance that makes NFL games and championship races so unpredictable and exciting.”
Goodell paints a dismal picture of the league should the union lawyers get what they want, he sites the following drastic changes that would ensue including: No Draft, no minimum payroll, no minimum player salary, no limits on free agency, no league-wide testing program for drugs of abuse or performance enhancing substances…
Wait a minute, they had a testing program for performance enhancing substances in the NFL before?
Goodell’s article continues to site many other negative changes that would result to the league if the NFL players get their way. It sounds more like a plea for the average fan to side with the owners and fight the good fight. That’s hard for any fan to stomach, considering we know it was the owners who had planned this lockout long ago.
Goodell writes: “Is this the NFL that fans want? A league where carefully constructed rules proven to generate competitive balance—close and exciting games every Sunday and close and exciting divisional and championship contests—are cast aside? Do the players and their lawyers have so little regard for the fans that they think this really serves their interests?”
I can’t speak for all football fans, but as a gaming industry professional, all we want is for there to be football.
It is interesting though, if you take Goodell at his word, betting on the NFL could change dramatically.