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I know some of you are like me.  You work a job that you don’t always enjoy and you make the best of it.  Once work is through, you want to go have some fun with your significant other, pet, friends, or just like-minded people.  A little over 20 years ago I fell in love with fantasy football; however, my love affair with football came long before that. 

While being raised in the mid-west, football was on constantly and I would take that football that I was given as a Christmas present tossing it in the air from age 4.  Sometimes I would catch the football, sometimes I wouldn’t. I slept with that darn thing so much it stunk.  From ages 7-14, I was blessed to be taken to a major college football rivalry, Michigan vs. Ohio State, by my father (Michigan grad) and grandfather (Ohio State grad).  My love of the game grew and grew. 

In junior high and high school, I played football either Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturday mornings.  I’d get home on Saturday afternoon and watch whatever college game was on.  On Sundays, I would eat my lunch quickly just so I could see as much of the pregame as I could.  I had the “fever” or as my bud, Ryan, said so well, the “sickness.” 

Many of you don’t remember or may have not been born yet for the replacement players partial season in 1987.  Three games were played with scab players as the Union went on strike.  Some of those scab players ended up being good players, but they were few and far between.  Current Head Coach Sean Peyton was one of those players that got his foot in the door with the NFL because of the strike. The level of competition during those replacement games was close to XFL levels (Vince McMahon’s failed pro football attempt).  A few “star” players crossed the picket line early, namely Joe Montana, Lawrence Taylor, Steve Largent, and Tony Dorsett. 

The regular season in 1987 ended up being limited to the 3 replacement games and 12 games played with the regular players.  Federal judge David Doty became involved in the NFLPA/NFL hearing in late 1987 and has presided over much of what has transpired up until now, including the birth of free agency.

The NFL decided to option out of the 2006 agreement in 2008 which caused an uncapped year in 2010.  Both parties had the choice to option out of the agreement that very much favored the players.  Both sides want to blame the other side.  The owners have costs and the players don’t make the size of investments that the owners do.  The players do put their bodies on the line every time they play or practice.

This isn’t a simple workers vs. owners.  The players are as much of the product as the teams.  Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don’t need their jerseys on to be recognized and pitch products.  Much is being said that the players decertification is a ploy as they are trying to take advantage.  I think it is more about equal footing.

The owners and players both make more money yearly then I will make in 9 years (my $40k vs. $325k minimum player salary vs. $Xm owners income).  So believe it or not, I am having a hard time relating to either side.  Now some of you will call BS as I have said on twitter that I am on the players’ side.  I am, as they are the reason I watch the NFL product and they risk their health for my enjoyment like the gladiators of ancient Rome did.  Sometimes players don’t get to walk away from the game.  A personal hero, Mike Webster, who was a HOF Center for my Pittsburgh Steelers died at age 50 due to complications due to continuous blows to the head during his playing days. 

The owners either buy or inherit a team, which in most cases is strictly a business decision; this does not lead to many medical complications.  The players and their representatives knew they had gotten a good deal in 2006 and went in willing to give ground.  The NFL did not bring many of the actual owners in until the last nine days of the negotiations.  It appears to me that each side underestimated the other.  Now lawsuits could fly as early as tomorrow. I believe 60% of what I am hearing from the players side and 40% of the owners side.  There is too much misinformation out there.

The sad thing is that I am a glutton for punishment.  I will continue to love the NFL and I will probably continue to use Directv’s Sunday Ticket; I may cancel it in the next couple days just to do my part to put pressure on the NFL’s cash flow supply, but get it before the NFL resumes games.  I won’t be buying my two yearly NFL jerseys ( my birthday and Christmas ones) or going to an NFL game this year.  Stop the madness and get it done!

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