The National Football League has a trust problem. Over the past few years NFL teams, players, and coaches have grown increasingly frustrated with the actions taken by the multi-billion dollar organization.
These issues have always been there, but people are finally starting to vocalize them and promote change within the league. The result has not been a good look for the NFL. The past six months in particular have seen teams and players openly call out their employer.
What Matters Most?
A few weeks ago Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman put the league on blast for a lack of care towards player safety.
“It is hard to stress player safety in such a violent game,” Sherman said in a video made for the Player’s Tribune, an online medium created for professional athletes to express their thoughts and opinions to fans. “They only care about sales and fans coming to the game. At the end of the day they are going to do what they have to do to make money for the league and the owners. That’s the way it’s always going to be.”
This is a sentiment shared by many NFL players. They know the situation that they are in. The NFL wants to use them to make money and they don’t care about the effect it may have on the players. During the first game of this season reigning MVP Cam Newton was repeatedly hit in the head throughout the game, but was not taken out by the referees.
This is troubling because the NFL made a point before the season that they would have people monitoring every game for signs of concussions and would be proactive in pulling players that took big shots to the head. Falling in line with what Sherman said, Newton displayed signs of a concussion but was not pulled because it was a close game in the fourth quarter. Who wants to see the best player in the league pulled from the game in crunch time? It was all about the ratings and fan satisfaction.
Now fan satisfaction is a good thing to have in mind for an organization based on entertainment, but not when it comes at the price of its employee’s health. The players are beginning to realize this and are making it known to the NFL that they are not pleased. But, as Sherman said, there is not much they can do about it.
When all’s said and done they are still getting paid to go out and play for their teams. They are pawns in the larger scheme. “They are going to use us until our time is up, then they are going to find somebody else,” Sherman said.
Eagles and Browns Poke Fun at New Social Media Rule
The NFL made a point this past week to put a new policy into effect that forbids individual teams from posting highlights to their social media accounts during games. Via Sports Illustrated, first time offenders can be charged by the league up to $25,000 for a first offense and $100,000 for multiple offenses.
This is inconvenient for teams who obviously want to post highlights from ongoing games to their social media accounts for fans to see.
The Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles found a fun way to stick it to the NFL for limiting their ability to post these highlights. They made videos of an old electronic football board game to imitate the plays they wanted to show that had just happened in the game. It shows these toy football players running around a field with a paper football and subtitles to tell the viewers what is going on.
This is just another example of the NFL making a move in their own interest.
Pay Rates Worth It?
Another issue NFL players have recently brought up is their pay rate and whether they are being properly compensated. NFL contracts have the least guaranteed money of any of the major professional sports. This is due to the greater risk of injury and teams don’t want to pay money to players who aren’t on the field.
This past summer featured a large spike in the salary cap for the National Basketball Association which allowed teams to afford larger contracts than usual. This led to guys who come off of the bench getting contracts paying them $40-60 million over the course of the deal. Compared with NFL contracts where the best players in the league will get around $40-60 million guaranteed, but maybe not any more.
This led to an outpour of social media action from NFL players saying that they are in the wrong sport and asking why they aren’t getting paid the same.
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