All NFL fans hate a holdout.
They hate hearing whining from guys who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars. They hate hearing the Latrell Sprewell-types talk about having to “feed their family.” Most of all, they hate that their team might miss the Super Bowl because of some diva.
All that makes sense for the masses, especially for those who are standing on the unemployment line. Those guys look at the NFL as a two-hour release from their troubles, and they don’t want some punk snatching even that out of their hands.
But the masses are wrong. And the guys holding out are right.
Disagree? Then I have two words for you: Matt Forte.
Here is a guy who is worth significantly more than he is getting paid. You can talk all the Jay Cutler you want, but Matt Forte IS the Bears’ offense, especially if punters finally wise up and stop kicking the ball to Devin Hester.
Forte did everything that a good player is supposed to do: He showed up and he played like an all-pro. He now has a grade-2 sprain/tear in his knee. Anyone think that the Bears aren’t going to bring that up in the contract talks?
Chris Johnson took the diva approach and held out. In the end, he got his money and is now returning to form. It took more than half the season, but he won’t have to worry about money for a long, long time. And his team is still very much in the playoff hunt.
I admire Forte for choosing the high road, certainly above that of DeSean Jackson. But he’s going to pay, and pay dearly, for that decision.
NFL players, particularly running backs, have a ridiculously small window to make their money. Yes, they make a lot of it; but is there anyone among us that wants to make LESS than what we are worth?
70% of NFL players are bankrupt within five years of the end of their career. That is largely their own fault, but it also explains why players are adamant about getting their money while the getting is good.
It’s hard for us to sympathize with an NFL player. In fact, we shouldn’t “sympathize” with them, because even the lowest-paid make more than most of us.
At the same time, we need to realize that the millionaire players are paid by billionaire owners. Those owners will cut that player or slash their contract at the first sign of injury or decline.
For those who say, “But he signed a contract,” keep in mind that the owners sign those as well. Unless they are willing to guarentee and honor that contract under any circumstances, then the players are perfectly justified in using whatever leverage they have.
The average NFL running back only lasts 3-4 years. If any of us had only 3-4 years to work, I’m sure we would be a lot more demanding about our salaries.
Here’s the thing: I’m not asking you to sympathize with these guys. But just put yourself in their shoes for a second. And recognize the fact that they don’t get to wear those shoes for very long.