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Do Fans Tend To Side With The NFL Owners?

Bob Gretz of (which is free again, by the way) wrote today about the labor situation between the NFL owners and NFL Player's Association. In the story (which you should read), Gretz has this to say:

The average fan tends to side with management in these situations, viewing the players as money-hungry, greedy and not thankful for the millions of dollars they already make via the owners. The guys that run the league don't seem to receive the same scrutiny. They are considered businessmen who have put their money on the line to build a franchise and league.

Maybe I'm not an average fan but I'd disagree with that assessment in this particular case.

First, the NFL's inability to paint a crystal clear picture of why they opted out of the CBA is, to me, one of the critical issues here as far as public perception is concerned. If the NFL had come out and said, 'Listen, we're making X percent less than we were three years ago, and here's the proof, so I think we need to re-do the deal,' I'd be fine with that. I understand the NFL is a business and people need to get paid. 

The problem is that the NFL hasn't clearly explained why they want out of the deal. They say they want to grow the game for everyone, which requires a larger slice of the pie for them, but they won't get down to the details to prove that they need more money.

Whether it's accurate or not, when I feel someone isn't telling the whole story, I become suspicious.

Second, the 18-game schedule. From what I can tell, the NFL has heard fans say they don't like the current preseason set-up and they've interpreted that as, 'Let's take away two preseason games and add two regular season games.' This fits into the 'grow the game' narrative but the problem is that many fans have made it clear that they do not want an 18-game schedule. What we don't like is paying FULL PRICE for a shoddy product in the preseason. Yet the league keeps telling us that we want 18 games. Not everyone, or even most fans, want that.

I wrote yesterday that there are too many issues at play for me to definitively take one side or the other in this argument and, while that's true, these are two major issues for me and they both fall on the league's shoulders. So, from my view, I don't think the fans are siding with the owners (or anyone) at this point.