As the fans of the NFL get excited about the upcoming season, running backs Ezekiel Elliot and Melvin Gordon hold up for new contracts.
Both running backs have little to no leverage. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers believe they can win without a dominant running back. The narrative have been that running backs are interchangeable so you don’t need a good one.
In the case of the Cowboys they’re talking out of both sides of their mouth. On one hand, they feel as if they have the upper hand on quarterback Dak Prescott because the offense is built around the running game. On the other hand, the game that makes the running game go is Elliott. The same guy they don’t want to pay.
In Los Angeles, the thought process is very simple. They were 4-0 in games without Gordon last year. Plus, management has a token mouth piece in way of Philip Rivers who recently said “We love Melvin, but we’re going to go with what we’ve got. It’s a pretty dang good group.”
The NFLPA has failed to do it’s job and owners have convinced fans that the quarterback position is the only one that needs to get paid. Mindless fans, regurgitate this nonsense all the time. Occasionally you’ll get the argument for a pass rusher or a left tackle but the NFL has been reduced to a one position league.
Running backs along with wide receivers are built up as being expendable. This fits the NFL narrative as those positions are largely made up of African-American players. The league and, some of the media, have gleefully turned those positions into “diva” positions. Something it’s core fan base is all too joyous to repeat at every turn.
If the NFLPA wants to change the narrative and actually serve it’s entire membership then they need to look at Major League Baseball. In 1994, the MLB owners tried to make a power play that surely would have led MLB down an NFL type road where the contracts would be one way. The owners wanted a salary cap, elimination of salary arbitration and the ability to keep free agents as long they matched another team’s best offer. So what did the MLB Player’s Union do? They went on strike.
The NFLPA frequently allows the NFL owners to lock them out. Then they sit their with no leverage as the offseason ticks away. Once desperation sets in, they take another horrible one-sided deal only to complain later.
In 94, the MLBPA would hit the owners and the sport where it hurts, during the regular season. It would come with consequences bad and good. The bad consequence was the World Series was cancelled. The Montreal Expos would never get it’s fan base back and, eventually, would end up in baseball starved Washington D.C.
The players would still win out. One of the things the owners wanted was a salary cap. Here we are 25 years later and MLB is the only salary-cap free league among the four major US sports. That would’ve never happened if the MLB players waited for the owners to dictate the calendar of events.
The only thing the NFL players are willing to do is whine about how much the NBA players get in terms of guaranteed dollars. That’s not going to get the NFL owners to give an inch in negotiations.
Le’Veon Bell’s holdout was a small beginning. The NFLPA and it’s members should keep a close eye on Elliott’s and Gordon’s holdouts. The NFLPA needs to finally exhibit real leadership and sell its members on what it has to do for the future players. That isn’t going to be a clean and easy process but it’s time.
With the CBA set to expire in 2020, the players need to strike their own tune.