Well, hate is a really strong word here. I couldn’t really think of anything that was more of an attention grabber, though. So while I’ve got you here, I’d like to go over why the NFL is a dreadful business on the player side of it.
Earlier today, I read that Johnathan Vilma was offered a deal by the NFL on his suspension from the madness that the talking heads call “Bounty Gate”. Why everything has a gate in it, I don’t know. But that’s what we’ll refer to it as.
While reading that headline I’m thinking in my head, “okay, they’re trying to work him over.” They offer Vilma an eight game suspension as opposed to the original 16 game suspension that the commissioner, Roger Goodell, had imposed originally. All along, the original suspension had been questioned by the media everywhere. They wondered how many, if any, of the allegations were true and how the players were to be punished in this, if at all.
Roger Goodell says that they have tapes with the Saints players calling bounties on games, most notably the NFC Championship in 2009 in which the Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings. It was said that Anthony Hargrove called out a bounty of Farve–Hargrove later denied this. Since, Goodell has really released no proof or evidence that any of the accused players were involved or running any type of bounty ring.
This is where Vilma comes in. He receives the most punitive suspension of 16 games, a whole season removed from what will likely be a less than 15 year career, given out to any player involved in Bounty Gate. It was said that Vilma was one of the leaders of the pack and kind of spearheaded the whole thing as a player. His contributions were apparently damning enough to remove a whole year out of his career–that would be the bottom line.
Next, Vilma is told that he can appeal the decision of the Commissioner. There’s only one problem though–the appeal judge is the Commissioner himself. With that in mind, Vilma chooses to forgo the appeal process and actually take Goodell to Federal Court. The charge? Defamation of Character.
Vilma said that he had nothing to do with any Bounty System that was ran in New Orleans. He also asked Roger Goodell to see the evidence that eventually warranted his 16 game suspension. Roger Goodell denied him that request, saying that there was no need for him to see it. Vilma was upset about this because he’s being accused of hurting players when he says that he did not. Not letting him, or anyone else really, see any substantial evidence means that Goodell is the only one who knows why the suspension was implemented.
Vilma did the right thing by taking a stand and taking Goodell to court. The reason for Vilma’s suspension still remains unknown to the public and Vilma himself. Federal Court should surely bring it out in the end, right?
Now, here is the part that bothers me. That’s when Goodell takes matters into his own hands, outside of the court, and offers Vilma this deal. This is what the deal offer says to me: Okay, you’ve got me cornered. I don’t have much evidence that you were apart of the Bounty process and your name just happened to come up. I was just trying to make an example of you because of your tenure as a player and how much these guys respect you. So please, take this 8 game suspension instead. Take half of your season back instead of ruining my league’s PR. We have enough lawsuits as it is. Thanks, John.
Its like Goodell is trying to bribe Vilma into taking what should be looked at as a bribe. Vilma would be doing the players of the NFL a disservice if he were to accept this deal. The NFL players are being run over and they have been for a while now. Even with last year’s lockout, the players didn’t do a good enough job getting any concessions that they had hoped for. In fact, Roger Goodell got a pay raise and is also the judge and jury of the NFL’s player conduct system. He’s the owner’s puppet and continues to act as such.
Each player goes out and puts their health at risk during every game for less than half of what is an industry that is easily worth billions of dollars. Each franchise is worth 1.04 billion dollars and the players won’t see most of that. Brook Lopez will end up making more money than Drew Brees even though Brees just signed a massive contract.
The players need to take a stand for each other along with the players that will come into the league. They always talk about how “The Shield” is worth more than anything to them and it shows from the talking heads on ESPN that are former players. They rant and rave about how the NFL takes care of them, but yet they are all severely underpaid. They don’t market themselves correctly and that’s because there is language in their contracts that prevent them from doing so. They aren’t allowed to make certain deal with certain companies the NFL doesn’t want to deal with.
They have no leverage because they don’t give themselves any. They are the gears that make the NFL move and the oil that keeps the gears lubricated. They still let the owners make more money off of them than they do themselves. What Vilma is doing here is providing other players with a model on how to battle the oppression that the NFL puts these players through. They don’t have to go through the commissioner to get a fair trial if they take him to court.
This could potentially be a pivotal moment in the life of their new CBA. The Players can either grow or fold here. Whatever the case, I’ll be watching from the sidelines. The NBA is where its at.