I have to get this little rantblog out of my system before I can move forward. I know that, and yet even thinking about it is still like staring into the sun.
Count me an ignoramus, looking upon the business dealings of millionaires and billionaires we are all but surely not possessors of all the facts about, and throwing up her hands. But mark me down as, still, anti-EVERYBODY.
Some of my fellow fans have strugged with this response from me. Sports fans are, of course, given to this behavior -- we have to have a side, even if we're watching a labor dispute instead of a game. And then there are all the rich opportunities it offers us to argue, our second-favorite pastime.
Oh, you can get into the minutiae of what we know about both sides of this dispute. You can project your own philosophical worldview onto it, also, and choose a kind of abstract, reductivist "side" of it all that way. Or, because this whole hot mess is so multifaceted, spanning the rookie wage scale to the franchise tag, head injuries, TV contracts and salaries, that there isn't one "side" to really pick, even if you want to, you can go around and around about this, forever. Some people will. Some people enjoy that, and that's fine.
But me? I want no part of it. Each new detail that's reached me has utterly infuriated me, from the league's smarmy "Letter to Fans" -- stuff it, Goodell, and talk to your damn players before you go trying to drag us in with some kind of hamfisted and unwelcome pander to the grandstand -- to Adrian Peterson's imbecilic comments about his $10 million / year athletic career, in which he is represented both by a union (or, well, was) and an agent, being "modern-day slavery".
The hell with all of ya. That's what I'm feeling right now, that and a new sympathy for people who never returned to being baseball fans after "The Strike."
I mean, has any professional sports league in this country emerged from a lockout or strike the better for it, especially the recent ones? Baseball emerged from its work stoppage in 1994 into what we now affectionately know as the Steroid Era. Hockey? Ten years after baseball's "outage", following the NHL lockout of 2004-05, fundamental rules of the game were different by the time the league got back on track, fer Chrissakes.
The bottom line to me is, everyone involved here had YEARS to work all of this out, to allow true compromise and dialogue to happen on all of the issues, before getting to the point where the whole friggin' league would implode on itself, alienating fans, damaging local economies, casting the future of the game unnecessarily in doubt, and costing everybody many of the millions of dollars that have been the cause of so much of this consternation in the first place.
And it's not like the powers that be, as well as the players of the NFL, weren't aware of all of those things, right? I mean, the only thing anyone seems to be able to agree on is that nobody wanted this. Not now, not when the most successful league in America seemed at the height of its power.
So how on Earth was it still allowed to happen?
I've heard a lot of arguments about who's wrong or who's right on some subset of the tangle of issues that's being dealt with here. But I have yet to hear an acceptable, direct answer to that bottom-line question.
And so, yeah. My preference right now is simply to try and stay away, both in order to regain my own perspective -- I will survive if there is no professional football played in 2011, after all -- and the better NOT to be turned off on the whole sport for good, whenever and in whatever form it should return.
Frankly, I think that's the most anyone can ask of an NFL fan at this point.