The NFL has made the month of January a very exciting month, especially the past two weeks. As the labor dispute heats up, this month has kept NFL fans on the edge of their seats with great playoff games, tweets, promises, threats, and firings and hirings. Fans have witnessed the New York Jets guarantee and fulfill road playoff defeats over both the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots back to back, the Kansas City Chiefs host their first playoff game in seven years, the Seattle Seahawks become the worse playoff team in the history of sports to host a game (and win), Ben “the Raven killer” Roethlisberger perform his scrambling heroics to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and the New York “Gang Green” Jets and achieve his third trip to a Super Bowl, and lastly, the fans witnessed Aaron “A-Rodg” Rodgers reach his first Super Bowl in his brief six year career (Rodgers was a back-up to Brett Favre for three years).
The month of January has also informed fans that Plaxico Burress will make his return to the NFL in 2011, that Chad Ochocinco will be returning to his birth surname of Johnson, that Julius Peppers received a fine of $10,000 for his hit on Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game (illegal hits have plagued the 2010 NFL season), and that the President of the United States, Barack Obama, said that he would attend the Super Bowl in Dallas if his Chicago Bears could beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship; to which Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers replied, “since the President won’t come to see us, then we will go to see him,” referring to the yearly event of the Super Bowl champion’s visit to the White House.
Furthermore, this month has watched as the NFL has played “musical chairs” with several coaches from around the league. It’s safe to report that Mike Singletary is now a special teams coach in Minnesota, Tom Cable is an assistant head coach in Seattle, Josh McDaniels is now the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, Rob Ryan is the defensive coordinator in Dallas, John Fox is the new head coach in Denver, Hugh Jackson is the new head coach in Oakland, Pat Shurmur is the new head coach in Cleveland, Jim Harbaugh is the new head coach in San Francisco, Jason Garrett is the new head coach in Dallas, Ron Rivera is the new head coach in Carolina, and Leslie Frazier is the new head coach in Minnesota. In addition to this, coach Del Rio in Jacksonville and coach Lewis in Cincinnati were able to respectfully maintain their head coaching positions, while Jeff Fisher, formally of the Tennessee Titans, was relieved of his head coaching responsibilities after a 16 year stint.
With so much activity regarding coaching changes in the NFL, fans could see an awesome group of former coaches returning in 2012, such as Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, John Gruden, maybe even Tony Dungy, and the aforementioned Jeff Fisher.
Notwithstanding, Mark Donovan has been promoted from Vice-President to President of the team in Kansas City, Nnamdi Asomugha, the second-best cover corner in the NFL, has become a free agent, Vince Young has been given his walking papers, and a Chicago car salesman was recently fired for wearing a Green Bay Packers tie into work one morning and refusing to take it off. And how can we forget the fiasco surrounding Jay Cutler’s early exit from the NFC Championship Game, a game that led to several players of various sports to speak out about the incident, some even questioning Cutler’s toughness.
In my opinion, assuming that Cutler was injured during the game, it was his attitude and body language on the sideline afterwards that led people to question the man’s heart.
Even more, the month of January has revealed a series of events that can only be described as “Twittergate.” Fans, this is not Spygate (see New England Patriots), Nipplegate (see Super Bowl XXXVIII), nor Shouldergate (see 1978 Pittsburg Steelers), but in fact Twittergate (see 2011 NFL labor dispute). NFL players are bickering with each other as well as NFL executives internally feuding. The recent responses from around the league have been a bit chaotic and mutiny appears to be on the horizon. This past week, numerous tweets have come from all levels of the NFL, including executives, union leaders, and players alike. Beginning with the tweets between Antonio Cromartie of the New York Jets, who stated to the press earlier this week that both the NFL owners and Union officials should “stop b****** about money,” and Matt Hasselbeck, quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.
After Ray Lewis and Darnell Docket intervened and advised Cromartie not to make any comments concerning the labor negotiations, Matt Hasselbeck, in response to Cromartie’s comment, tweeted “somebody ask Cromartie if he knows what CBA stands for.” Shortly afterwards, Hasselbeck removed the post from his twitter account, but not before Cromartie had seen it. In which Cromartie replied, “hey Matt if u have something to say then be a man about it. Don’t erase it. I will smash ur face in.” To which Matt Hasselbeck tweeted back, “Sorry for the joke man. No hard feelings. DB’s and QB’s have a hard time getting along I guess sometimes. lol.” Fans, are union members scatting amongst themselves here?
Then there are the Union reps and NFL executives that are also tweeting. Earlier this week, the Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, has vowed that he would reduce his $10 million salary to $1, if a deal is not reached by March 4, 2011. In collaboration with Goodell, the NFL lead league negotiator, Jeff Pash, has agreed to do the same with his $5 million salary.
But wait, NFL fans, there’s more.
DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFLPA, then countered with a tweet stating that he would reduce his salary (roughly $1.75 million) to 69 cents. Smith tweeted, “NFL execs reducing salaries in the event of a lockout? If we have a deal by Super Bowl I’ll go down to 68 cents.” The February 6th Super Bowl is a date one month prior to the actual lockout date of March 4, 2011. That’s a tall order.
Personally, I would purchase season tickets for the Detroit Lions if a deal is done by March 4th.
On January 28, 2011, some team executives and a few NFL officials held a 90-minute press conference before the media, about which Union spokesman George Atallah responded to in a tweet stating, “NFL officials hosted a media briefing at the offices today. And we’re the ones that want to negotiate in the public.”
While suggestions, projections, and incendiary comments are being tossed about the conference room, sponsorship deal renewals are already becoming a problem. Some companies are telling the NFL that they will not commit money if there is a work stoppage, according to Eric Grubrman, NFL executive vice-president of business operations. Among places where the league figures to lose money are ticket income, season-ticket renewals, sponsorship revenue, and retail sales. In addition to this, the NFL has also estimated that 70 players with existing contracts would not be able to collect about $140 million due March 4, 2011 or later in salary advances or bonuses.
According to reports, there are three windows to which a deal can be reached if the deadline is extended. The first is before March 4, 2011, the second is just before the start of training camp, and the third is before the season starts. However, an NFL official did announce a fourth window (a worse case scenario) which would have a decision done during the middle of the 2011 season, by which there will be no football played in 2012. Fans should be happy to note that an extension of the lockout deadline is possible “if progress is made,” according to Jeff Pash.
Albeit, the saga continues…