Antonio Brown, Jalen Ramsey, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. These are the names of the “new era” of NFL player empowerment and not everyone is on board.
Earlier this week on the Monday Night Football broadcast, ESPN’s Steve Young launched into a rant about players demanding trades.
He twice made reference to the notion that the NFL is “becoming the NBA.”
What’s wrong with the NBA Steve?
The implication from his comments being there is something wrong with players wanting to work in different cities or for different organizations. What’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t a player get to decide where he wants to live and work?
The underlying issue behind Young’s comments and many others that support this line of thinking is complicated and shrouded around notions of power and who has it.
In the NFL, by and large, owners and organizations have it. In the NBA, the star players have it. There’s the rub for the NFL’s talent pool.
Every offseason, NFL players are shocked and in awe over the contracts received and the freedom and flexibility their NBA counterparts exhibit.
No doubt there is some envy there. The freedom to choose where one lives and works is a basic freedom available in just about every walk of life.
Of course the economics and systems within the NFL and NBA differ, but at the end of the day, it’s still a job for the labor force. Said labor force should be allowed to have some say in their working conditions, locations, etc.
The comments from Young were particularly interesting because as a player he wielded his power and got himself out of Tampa Bay to San Francisco.
Why was that different from what Jalen Ramsey is doing?
Before they were even drafted into the NFL, future Super Bowl winning quarterbacks John Elway and Eli Manning both made it clear they would not play for the teams that held the #1 pick in their respective drafts. They used leverage to force their way to preferred destinations.
The uproar and pushback over player power wasn’t loud then.
The NFL and its lap dogs somehow believe their league is superior to the NBA insofar as they maintain order and control over the movement of their labor force. Well, certain members of their labor force.
It appears they believe there is something inherently wrong with players wielding power. Only the league itself and organizations should have its hands on the levers.
What are all these power dynamics about and what are they rooted in?
Twitter users have some thoughts.
(Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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