At this rate, the NFL might be called for intentional grounding. The league is close to raising the anger level of players to the point that a season might never happen, and team owners need to realize that they’re starting to slip on the same slope that cost MLB a big part of its reputation. According to rumors that are beginning to circulate in the sports world, NFL wants players to agree to essentially put part of their salary in escrow (although it wouldn’t physically happen that way) in order to counter the impact caused by the coronavirus, and the players union has told the league to pound sand.
The league has suggested that players allow 35% of their 2020 salaries to be put aside to help the league recover costs that have mounted because of COVID-19. However, that 35% wouldn’t be dissected and placed in an escrow account to be released later. Instead, the league is putting lipstick on a pig and doesn’t want to acknowledge that it may not be able to cover all its expenses this year. With the possibility of games being played in front of empty stadiums looming, many teams are concerned they won’t generate the revenue that would have partly gone to cover the players’ pay.
MLB already showed what happens when teams try to mess with players’ salaries, but NFL owners apparently weren’t paying attention. The news hasn’t sat well with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which held a conference call with players to break the news. According to NFLPA executive Don Davis, the union’s response to the league was for it to “kick rocks.”
The NFL should have remained quiet and figured out some other way to cover any damages caused by the coronavirus. Players won’t stand for losing any of their salary, especially as owners continue to “fly in their private jets and sit in their private sky boxes,” as one insider put it. Since the conference call was held and the news began rolling out to everyone, several players have already come forward and said that the entire league is ready to sit out if the owners stand their grounds and try to force their “escrow” deal on them.
In fact, some think owners should be willing to break out the wallets more under the circumstances. Darius Slay, cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles, said on Twitter, “We should get a bonus if we play!!! We putting our family’s at risk.” Pat McAfee couldn’t avoid jumping in, either, expressing concern that this could soon become a very public embarrassment and that the “fireworks” are just beginning. He stated, “This is gonna be a contentious couple of weeks between the NFL and the NFLPA. I HOPE it stays behind closed doors but, I feel like this tweet is a rather large implication that it will not. Fireworks coming. Ultimately season will be played tho… right? Right?” The only thing that could be heard in response were the crickets.