EUGENE, Ore. – Those Eugene area football fans who love to go down to the bar and watch both the NFL and “Duck” football have had a long, hard summer thus far with “worries that our Ducks are in trouble for recruiting issues,” and the recent NFL “lockout” that ended recently but still leaves fans upset at “what went down,” says Eugene local Roger.
In turn, Duck football coach Chip Kelly isn’t talking about the trouble facing Duck football management. “Chip says he wishes he could talk about it, but can’t. Go figure? I just hope it doesn’t hurt out team,” adds Roger who says he’s followed the Ducks ever since the Sixties when my folks moved to Eugene so I could go to a better high school.
At the same time, Roger says he’s “upset with the pros” becuase “they don’t seem to care about the fans.”
NFL lockout over after players say show me the money
Because the Oregon “Ducks” have a lot on the line being a former rated #1 college football team, news travels fast in Eugene with sources saying the NFL players voted for a deal with the billionaire owners after telling them to “show me the money.”
Recent meetings between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the commissioner and the wealthy owners resulted in an end to this 128-day lockout that’s threatened cancellation of the lucrative preseason games.
Still, sources here in Eugene think one major stumbling block to a deal is “when the players get real and say ‘show me the money’ and get that compensation for concussion injures after they retire or leave the game,” says former University of Oregon player Mike who has friends in the NFLPA. “The will give in once they get a deal on rookie wages, and other parts of this new collective bargaining agreement,” he said just prior to the players voting to end the lockout.
In the meantime, the NFL owners seem to have mirrored Congress in this stalemate over budgets and billions of dollars that will either stay with the owners or, in part, go to the players who want compensation for risking their brains after the repeated concussions that are almost mandatory to play professional football these days.
“Unless they change the rules, there’s no football helmet or way of playing that does not mean real risk of serious concussions every time you play the game. It’s like playing Russian Roulette because one way or another your head is going to get pounded to the ground, and who knows how you will be the next day or down the road,” adds Mike who thinks more should be done to protect football players who are exposed to upwards of 15 to 18 major concussions in their playing careers; including high school, college and then the NFL.
NFL players now heading back to their teams
Media sports sources – that seem to talk more than any other TV or Internet broadcast medium – are presented blanket coverage of this end to the NFL’s record breaking 128-lockout.
For instance, it was on July 13 that the sports networks were hopeful when they reported that superstar NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees called the NFLPA offer “fair for both sides” as they met in New York as “plaintiffs in an antitrust suit against the NFL,” stated the AP while also noting that both Manning and Brady asserted “it is time to wrap up negotiations on a deal to end the NFL lockout that will cost both players and owners in the billions in lost revenue if both the preseason and regular season is cancelled.
In turn, the Oregon “Ducks” and other college football teams are ready to make hay by having their Saturday games re-broadcast on Sunday, Monday and Thursday to help the TV networks who, in turn, will show the top college teams the money by paying them millions for rights to broadcast the games.
However, the Ducks may be in deep trouble to messing around with the way college teams must recruit players. The Ducks are not talking, and thus those who don’t like the Ducks are having a good ol’ time on sports TV talk shows asking “what does Chip Kelly have to hide?”
The AP and sports networks noted that this “lockout” has gotten so bad and frustrating for the players that Brady, Manning and Brees “spoke as a group publicly for the first time with talks in a critical phase, four months into the league’s first work stoppage since 1987.”
Optimism turns to rumors and then reality as both sides forced to give in
What’s also at stake with this lockout, says former football star Mike is the fans.
“The fans here in Oregon are tough on you if you screw up. This NFL has screwed up and the fans won’t take it kindly if they have to pay more for tickets and stuff at the ball park because the owners had to lay out more than expected to cut this deal with the players,” explains Mike while chugging a beer at a Eugene area watering hole where updates about the NFL lockout are on the lounge big screen TV’s 24/7.
Also, FOXSports.com noted during a July 21 report that “the owners have been told to expect a vote on the deal by 5:30 eastern time Thursday.” In turn, other sports media reports Thursday afternoon noted a deal was made but that it won’t be fully sorted for the media and fans until this weekend.
However, DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, cautioned reporters outside the union’s headquarters in Washington, DC, on July 20 “that there were still several pieces that needed to be put in place before a deal to end the lockout would be complete. ‘We continue to talk, said Smith on FOX Sports and other TV news Thursday while noting “there are some issues outstanding that are left to resolve.”
Chief among them, Smith said, is union recertification.
Other NFL sources told FOXSports.com that they he “didn’t believe the NFL’s demand that the NFLPA recertify as a union would impede a deal being completed. The players voted to decertify to purses multiple lawsuits against the league. For a deal to become final, the players would have to vote the union back into existence — and Smith said that’s not necessarily just a formality. ‘Every individual person has to make a decision about whether they want to be part of a union,’” Smith said of the ongoing meetings with NFL owners in Atlanta.
Multiple NFL sources told FOXSports.com “that owners still must agree on their own revenue-sharing plan, as well as vote to ratify a new CBA. It was unclear whether the two votes would be combined. But revenue sharing has emerged as another owner-sided glitch: Big-market teams, such as the Dallas Cowboys, are reluctant to surrender much of their new stadium revenue with smaller market clubs with older facilities.”
NFL season was never in jeopardy due to a show me the money attitude
Overall, Mike and others who know the “inside” of professional football say the lockout has been more drama than the real deal. For instance, Mike agrees with other’s at this popular Duck Sports bar in Eugene who think it’s always been and always will be about “show me the money.”
For instance, here in this town where the Oregon “Ducks” college football team is viewed as a cash cow thanks to its winning ways – bringing millions to the University of Oregon coffers and the Eugene community – there’s “no worries that the NFL lockout won’t be resolved because it’s always a ‘show me the money’ situation with the owners and players,” says a former Duck who played in the NFL.
It was on Feb. 17 that the NFL and its players’ union began what’s been dubbed as “the lockout” because it literally locks players out from their teams and preparing for the 2011/12 professional football season.
Both sides have agreed to federal mediation based, in part, on some sort of long-term care for those players who suffer from crippling brain damage after the impact of concussions that average as many as 15 to 20 concussion brain traumas during a NFL player’s career.
As of July 21, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith have been in discussions about ending the lockout.
At the same time, the NFL has green lighted TV, radio, Internet and print ads proclaiming NFL football is coming soon. Such optimism is understandable, says a former Eugene “Duck” player who spent some time in the NFL and explained it’s all about “show me the money” for the owners and players. There’s just too much money on the line for them to stay with this lockout.”
The player also noted that “the Ducks may have to answer to all their recent successes… I hope not?”
NFL has the power of a small country, earning billions and billions
The players in this high stakes game of “NFL lockout” have hundreds of billions at stake given ticket prices for an NFL game (that average more than $180 per ticket for most of the NFL’s 32 teams), and earnings from food, drinks and souvenirs at the ball parks, and TV revenue and other sponsorship income that makes for a very rich NFL and all involved, states an NFL website overview of this empire that rivals most countries in the world.
If all goes well with the current NFL “lockout” negotiations, the regular 17-week season will start on schedule during the first full week of September and run weekly into early January 2012.
NFL concussions could mean the end of hard-tackle football
There’s no technology or high-tech football helmet that can prevent a concussion, state sports medicine experts here in Eugene. Thus, the only recourse — to stop the “concussion madness,” as Hall of Famer and football concussion victim Terry Bradshaw calls it – is to consider modifying professional hard-tackle football into a sort of morphed soccer and touch football sort of game that will still deliver plenty of action, but fewer concussions, says a local Eugene football expert.
“They can’t stop a 370-pound player from tackling a 160-pound running back. But, they can make rules to protect that running back from being slammed hard on the field,” the expert explained.
Moreover, players involved in the current NFL lockout talks seem to concur that “something needs to be done to make the game safer for players and their brains due to the high rate of life-threatening concussions.”
“NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and other union officials – who’ve been attending secret talks with several NFL owners over the past few months – say at issue is a wide range of player demands that include special insurance and compensation for all NFL players who are exposed to repeated concussions, and the need for specialized brain treatment both during and after their playing careers have ended.
Also, the NFL lockout is tied to a “battle between millionaire players and billionaire owners that greatly impacts common folks,” reports FOX Sports recently.
Millionaire Roger Goodell defends the NFL lockout
Roger Goodell defended the NFL lockout for approximately 35 minutes to numerous Titans enthusiasts via a conference call to season-ticket holders last month. In turn, fans wanted answers regarding an 18-game season, expansion, and how the lockout will interfere with the 2011 season or if they’ll even be one.
In turn, Goodell was also reminded of the 1994 MLB strike that baseball is still trying to recover from and stressed that given this economy, the NFL doesn’t need to shut down its stadiums and lay both team staff and other workers off.
Goodell, who’s viewed in the media as a sort of president and icon, “is a very successful business man who makes a lot more money than the president via an estimated $12 million per year salary,” according to ESPN.
NFL continues with fight over concussion safety
Brett Favre told the AP back in May that he was “done with football” when asked if he would try another comeback while suffering like fellow veteran Terry Bradshaw with brain injuries due to repeated concussions as the NFL “ironman.”
As for the NFL lockout, Favre told AP “he doesn’t know if there ‘would be any football’ this year.”
As with Favre, Bradshaw and also the late Dave Duerson, the issue of brain damage — caused by repeated concussions during their high school, college and professional careers – resulted in what Boston University calls the tragic end to most football players careers: irreversible brain damage due to 15-20 concussions over many years of playing football.
In turn, the Boston University center that studies brain injuries of professional athletes stated that “former NFL player Dave Duerson had brain damage when he committed suicide in February.” Also, “The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the B.U. School of Medicine” announced back in March that its findings on its examination of Duerson’s brain proved this former Chicago Bears player was suffering from brain damage when he shot himself in the chest at age 50.
“Unfortunately this isn’t anything new. When you bash your head against another human being continuously for three hours there are going to be risks. Concussions and brain injuries have to be taken seriously by the players and owners while they are bickering over the lock out; so these type of stories and tragedies happen,” stated Black Sports Online in a recent report on why concussions is a sticking point with the current NFL lockout.
NFL commissioner told by owners to not cover players for future brain injuries
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in numerous sports media interviews that he expects “the labor impasse” will be resolved in time for the 2011 season to be played.
However, sports analysts and current and former NFL players want big bucks to compensate themselves after their professional careers have ended for “brain damage care” that costs millions as players move through the medical system into full-care facilities when their concussion-riddle brains will no longer function.
Moreover, the NFL players want billions set aside for their families after they either die or become permanently disabled, and can no longer provide for their families once their brain damage reaches a critical point.
This was the case with Duerson who left his brain to research so as to help find a solution to what’s eventually maiming and even killing so many former NFL, college and high school football players who suffer during any given football season from regular concussions on game day.
As for fans here in Eugene and throughout the country: they want their football. Jake, a former “Duck” player states that fans do view any talk of “concussions” as a buzz kill because “we enjoy the hits, and that’s part of the game.” Fans think the millions that NFL players receive is more than enough to compensate them for their injuries, and Goodell notes that the NFL owners agree.
Favre’s legacy is the “Iron Man” who paid for that title with his head and brain
“As he continues to rack up every available ironman record in pro football, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre admitted in an interview with NBC’s Cris Collinsworth that he kept the string alive by relying in part on a rock-hard head.”
So how many times did he play in a game with a concussion that today would have resulted in Favre sitting out?
“A lot,” Favre said in a NBC Sports report from 2009.
“But it was almost as if Favre, who’s firmly in the twilight of his career, tried to jam the subject into the discussion. The subject of his many concussions arose as Favre was talking about his recent conversation with former Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall, with whom Favre shares the record for consecutive regular-season games played, at a mind-boggling 282.”
In explaining that the lineman’s feat is more impressive because linemen hit on every play, Favre said to Marshall, “You played in an era where [the attitude was], ‘Concussion? Get back out there. We don’t want to hear it.’”
“People have asked me how many concussion I’ve had,” Favre said, “and I say, ‘I don’t remember.’”
“Then came the pause, as Favre waited for Collinsworth to laugh. When instead Brett heard the sultry sounds of cricket wings rubbing together, he smirked and tried to work his way out of it.”
“There’s probably no telling,” Favre said.