February 27, 2011

ALL THAT MATTERS IS THE DECAL ON THE HELMET:

Viewing the NFL labor situation through a 1987 lens (SAM MELLINGER, 2/26/11, The Kansas City Star)

The games were a blur. An earthquake hit the night before the first game against the Raiders. Ken Lacy fumbled twice at the goal line — “I couldn’t believe he was our tailback,” Stevens says — and the Chiefs lost.

The next week, the Chiefs played the Dolphins in the first-ever game at Joe Robbie Stadium. Stevens suffered a separated (non-throwing) shoulder in the first quarter and the Chiefs lost 42-0.

A few real NFL players showed up for the last game during the strike, most notably Joe Montana nationally and Kevin Ross locally with the Chiefs. [...]

Stevens is one of hundreds of replacement players whose life experience says the union will cave. This has been said so much it is taken as fact in some circles, almost like a character flaw of NFL players. The assumption of many is that if the players miss any games — or, more to the point, miss any money — they will come sprinting back to the sport and its paychecks.

Maybe this time will be different. Union leader DeMaurice Smith is talking that way, and for now the players behind him say the right things.

But they said the right things 24 years ago, too, and put up such a strong and dramatic front with the shotguns and pickup trucks and then just a few weeks later gave up the fight.

If you ever get the chance to talk to one of those old players about the strike, they will probably talk about the impossibly small feeling of watching games go on without them, of watching inferior players make money. The players lost about $80 million during the three replacement games, but the owners’ profits didn’t change much.


Football players are entirely fungible, which is smart teams trade high picks for low.


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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 27, 2011 12:42 PM
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