There are far bigger worries than NFL lockout

We should care more about Japan, unemployment, gas prices

March 14, 2011|By Mike Preston

To fill up my car with gasoline Sunday afternoon, it cost $48. That is a concern because there doesn't seem to be an end to the rising prices.

There isn't that type of concern about NFL owners locking out their players.

Every time I watch the news and see thousands of people in Japan who had to endure the recent tsunamis, you feel for them because homes were destroyed and lives were lost.

I don't have the same sympathy for the NFL.

I care about earthquakes, nuclear reactor meltdowns and the national debt. I even care more about the invasion of stink bugs this spring than what is going on in the NFL.

It's March, folks. Get a grip. We all knew this was going to happen. It's six months before the first regular-season game is to be played, and the players and owners will come to an agreement. If not before the games are scheduled to start, then soon after.

Why?

Because right now, neither side is feeling the effects. When those first game checks aren't mailed out and the players can't make payments on their new Escalades and Hummers, that's when they will want to negotiate. When the owners can't make rent payments on those stadium leases, that's when they'll come back to the bargaining table.

Until then, I don't care.

I have bigger concerns like unemployment, poverty and hunger.

And stink bugs.

I have compassion for the little guy who gets affected by the lockout, like local merchants, concession stand owners and fans. I feel for those employees who go to work every day at The Castle, and now might see their salaries reduced because of the lockout.

But I have no compassion for the owners or the players. I can't even come close to figuring out why the two sides can't reach an agreement on how to divide up $9 billion. I just can't.

I understand why the players, because of the injuries involved, don't want to increase regular-season games from 16 to 18. I can understand why there is a need to reduce the wage pool for rookies because it is out of control.

But all of us who go to work every day would love to have the problem of sitting down with family members and deciding how to divide up $9 billion.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell amuses me. During the lockout, he is slashing his $10 million a year salary to $1. Now, that's funny. Here is guy who is like the president, and doesn't have to carry a wallet, because everything is on the house to The Commish.

He's probably collected millions in other incentives, and now he wants us to believe he might be headed to the soup lines.

Poor Roger.

Maybe someone needs to remind him that if it wasn't for his predecessor Paul Tagliabue, the owners might not need to grab more money off the top of the revenue pool. It was Tagliabue, in all his infamous wisdom, who allowed the league to put franchises in Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.

Good moves, huh?

The players are just as bad. They are in no hurry to get this done. They want to attend these offseason weight training sessions and minicamps as much as we all enjoy getting wisdom teeth pulled.

But for about two weeks, both sides gave us hope that an agreement could be reached. Federal mediators were brought in. Bargaining extensions were granted.

But then on Friday, it all ended, at least for the time being. Union officials asked the owners to open their books so they could see why they needed more money, and they never received those documents.

The union decertified setting the stage for a possible lengthy battle in the federal courts, and panic set in around town among the fans.

Ah, life without the NFL ...

Fans had similar feelings when the Colts left Baltimore nearly 30 years ago, but they found other things to do. I've always had a passion for football, so I can get my weekend fix by driving over to Overlea to watch a Pop Warner game on Saturday morning or by checking out a Maryland or Gilman game.

Fans need to remember that the NFL hasn't lost real games since 1987, so it's too early to start sweating.

There are just so many other things to be concerned about like Social Security and Medicare going bankrupt, the murder rate in Baltimore and local officials talking about buying out 750 teachers.

And then there are rising gas prices.

And those darn stink bugs.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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