The NFL players and owners knew it was coming. For the last few years, talk about getting a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners was at the forefront, yet little was done to actually get one done. Deadline after deadline, meeting after meeting came and went with nothing getting done. Then the NFL saw an uncapped season in 2010. Now, the 2011 season is in jeopardy. We have yet to see free agency or a single organized team activity. With teams losing out an opportunities to get better through OTA’s, including the possibility of not having a training camp, game quality is likely to suffer. Despite all of these losses and grim outlooks, are the two sides actively at the bargaining table?
Nope. Instead, they are battling in court over the legalities of a lockout, and only meeting during court-mandated sessions that produce little to nothing. There is seemingly no sense of urgency from either side to get a deal done, and the ones left suffering are day-to-day team employees, rookies, players not making millions of dollars, and most importantly, the fans. One side of this dispute have largely been silent, but they’re starting to make their collective voice heard. That side is the fans themselves, and the league is starting get the message.
“Clearly it has had an impact on the fans,” Goodell said. “We see it in various metrics. There’s been a noticeable change, TV ratings were down on the draft roughly 4 million people. NFL.com traffic (is down), we see that.”
A drop of 4 million viewers from the NFL’s most popular offseason event is significant. The only way NFL owners and players are going to get a kick in their collective backsides is through hitting them right at the root of the whole dispute: their wallets. The more fans turn away, the more forceful the push becomes to get a new deal done. As fans stop buying merchandise, stop buying tickets in advance (word is there are thousands of unsold seats across the league), the more urgent the situation becomes.
Keep it up fellow NFL fans. We are the only ones who can expedite this process. Not a judge or some three-piece suited, high-profile lawyer. Just us, and all we have to do is sit back and hold onto our own money.