NFL lockout turns into war of “love letters”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sat right down and wrote a letter. . . and the NFL players didn’t much appreciate it. . . so they wrote one back.

The words put in text are the latest punches thrown in the “Billionaires vs. Millionaires” dispute (a.k.a. the lockout/lawsuit).  In case you missed it, talks between league owners and the NFLP broke down, the extended negotiation period passed, the NFLPA decertified, and then filed an Federal antitrust lawsuit against the league I call Ponytail…ERR…Brady v. NFL.

Last week, Goodell took the unusual step of writing a letter which explained certain facts about the negotiations and clarified certain financial terms that have been disputed.  He then e-mailed it directly to every player and their agent.  What’s interesting is that Goodell clearly sent this as a way to bypass the (now decertified) union and go directly to the players.  A move that’s legally allowed since the union is no longer certified but it’s still risky move and yet another salvo in the ongoing PR war.

Naturally, the players took offense to this letter.  They responded by – what else? – firing off a letter of their own to Goodell, in which they disputed the facts quoted in his letter, reminded him that they were indeed at the negotiating table, and reminded him that the NFLPA is still advising the players in their litigation.

This week, Goodell said that his intention was to ensure “…that keep people informed.”  Regardless, his letter got the attention he wanted, and the players got to vent their frustrations.  Ah, nothing like negotiating via the keyboard!

Is anyone having fun yet?  Shouldn’t we be reviewing endless mock drafts by now?

Ultimately, it’s hard to pull for either side in this dispute.  The owners extort money from season ticket-holders in the form of PSLs, build brand-new palatial stadiums with more high-end suites than some hotels, and rake in more and more money as they cry poverty.  The players make an average salary that would make players from the 1960s and 70s willing to come out of retirement for, have better benefits, and more job opportunities than ever before (via expansion and expanded rosters).

And when Goodell sends a letter like this, or NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith does an interview like the one he did with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, I realize why more and more fans are already sick of this charade.  And the only losers in the situation will be we, the fans.

In the meantime, send both sides a message.  Don’t buy any NFL merchandise.  Don’t watch anything related to the NFL.  Don’t pay for your season tickets.  (Oh, wait, that only works if you have New York Giants tickets).  You get the point – that’s the only way to send both sides a message.

Instead, focus your attention and hard-earned money on a sport whose season is less than a week away, actually has labor peace, and cares about its fans: Major League Baseball.

On second thought, scratch those last two facts.  But at least MLB is playing games instead of passing notes to each other.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

Copyright ©2011 Sports Climax, LLC

Photo provided by Public Domain Pictures.

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