The sh*t is hitting the fans

Fans of the NFL, it’s time to admit the ugly truth; we are in an abusive sports relationship. Whenever this lock-out finally ends, players will be able to get more money and have less required of them; no more training camp two-a-days, fewer OTAs, limited workouts in full pads, and so on. The owners will be better off because of rookie wage scales and lowered salary caps. The fans? We’ll still be required to pay full price for preseason games. And we will. The owners know it. The players know it. We know it.

That’s why the attempts by the owners, players and media to portray the useĀ  fans’ “good will” as a bargaining chip is ridiculous. ESPN tries to kill time on SportsCenter by debating on which side of this stand off the fans’ sympathies lie. Do we blame the owners or the players for this mess? (submit your answer online now!). Yesterday, the owners apparently (and I say apparently because I don’t really care enough to find out the fine details) voted to approve a proposal that the players hadn’t seen yet, allegedly as a way to put the onus on the players in the eyes of the public. The NFL may have done this for strategic reasons, but I can assure you “public perception” isn’t one of them. How do I know? Because both the players and owners know that whenever, however they decide to settle this, we’ll be waiting with open arms wallets. Public perception has zero affect on either side, and for the NFL and media to pretend otherwise is adding insult to injury. Yes, we know that no matter how the NFL treats us, we’ll be back when they tell us to be, cash in hand. It doesn’t matter who we blame; it doesn’t matter if we are anti-owner or anti-player; tell us when to be there, and how much it’ll cost, and we’ll pay it.

Aren't we cute?

I’m not asking for an attitude adjustment from the fans. Maybe one day in some alternate universe, fans will actually pull off a “fan strike” and leagues will have to take us into account. All I’m asking is that ESPN, the NFL, and the NFLPA stop mocking us by pretending that public perception means anything to the union or the owners. If and when we have our first preseason game, the stadium will be full, and people will be so grateful that the lock-out is over that any sort of anger or resentment towards the NFL will be forgotten. We will happily buy our $10 beers while we sit and cheer Joe Something-ton lead the Bengals’ third stringers onto the field.

So please, NFL, stop pretending that you give a damn about the fans, and just get this thing done. Stop acting like any sort of public pressure could intimidate one side or another into making a deal, when both sides are well aware that when the NFL snaps its fingers, we will come running. We’re not proud of ourselves for it; please stop taunting us. Please don’t say it is important to get this done for the fans. You care about the fans because they pay your bills, and you know that you could cancel the September 11 game in New York on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, and would (at worst) have to deal with a light smattering of boos before the kick-off of the next game. What we think doesn’t matter; certainly not to you. Stop using the media to negotiate. Stop sending out press releases. Stop trying to paint yourselves as martyrs. At this point, we hate all of you. But we’ll be there.

Please get this done so you can take our money and we can go back to pretending that you care.