Saturday, June 28, 2008

NFL Commissioners spot problems, do jack

Its time to get this blog fired up again with some good 'ol fashioned Haterade. Its kind of what I do. And since there is no awesome, robot fighting movie for me to compare NFL players to this year, I'm going to settle for setting my target on someone else.

I'm going to risk a "disappearance" here, and call out Roger Goodell AND his predecessor Paul Tagliabue. For both have spotted problems with the NFL and will likely do...jack.

Earlier this week, Goodell took issue with a fact that has been known for several years. Rookies are overpaid. This angers the Rog. He's also angered that toast is warm, the sky is blue (he prefers fuschia), and how DARE his swimming pool get him wet when he enters it.

Rookies are overpaid. Everyone know it. If not under orders from their agents, I would imagine some rookies themselves would say they get a lot of cash, considering they have yet to be tested on this side of the vast gap between college and pro ball.

Does Goodell's proclamation remind you of anything? Perhaps, it should. When the Vikings were in the process of stealing Steve Hutchinson, Tags proclaimed that poison pills were bad for the game. And while I have argued that Hutch's defection to Minnesota is largely Ruskell's fault, I'm still curious as to why the commissioner of the NFL can say something is bad, but not stop it.

Poison pills broke new ground, and I'm guessing are not covered in the CBA (at least not provisions such as "if player X plays a certain number of games in Washington in a season, his contract is guaranteed). Tagliabue could have stepped in and said "Oh, hell no!" But he didn't. And now Hutchinson is one of the reasons why Dr. Z has picked them to win the Super Bowl, much to our delight at SeahawkBlue.

Here, Goodell, the hand-picked Golden Boy/The Law has come out and said "rookies get paid to much." The question becomes, will he do anything about it? Will he make a rookie salary cap or at least that issue a sticking point in upcoming CBA negotiations? Will he stand up to the NFLPA in this instance, or will he let teams continue to play a game of draft day roulette where a bulleted chamber sends them years of cap space hell?

The way I see it, the league runs the serious risk of allowing itself to walk down the NBA's path. Contracts in the NBA are out of whack, the salary cap ignored, and teams spend years trying to unload cap space. It turns the league into one big shitfest where really only two or three decent teams emerge from the season. And even then, one of those teams employs Pau Gasol, so how good could they actually be?

The best thing about the NFL is its competitive balance, and knowing that every year could be your year. (note: offer not valid in Detroit). The league needs to keep teams from being burdened by bad draft picks before some franchises seriously get crippled for multiple seasons.

Perhaps this declaration is a sign that Goodell wants to see at least a pay scale for rookies. But unless he acts on it, Goodell will do what Tagliabue did before him: see a problem and ignore it.