Being a Washington-based media outlet (yes, I use that term loosely to describe us here at Hogs Haven) has afforded us certain advantages. One of the ones that I have greatly appreciated over the last year is the ability to grab a few minutes on the phone with the folks downtown at the NFLPA. George Atallah and Mike Donnelly (respectively, the Assistant Executive Director, External Affairs and Manager, Communications) again gave me some time yesterday to ask them about their newest endeavor, NFLLockout.com.
First, I must say (as I always do when I speak to George) that talking to George Atallah on the phone is eerily hilarious, given how much his voice sounds like Kevin Spacey's. It could just be my ears, but seriously...if you are going to be talking to George on the phone any time soon, do yourself a favor and DON'T watch the movie Seven prior to that call. The Ref is fine, though (and a ridiculously underrated movie by the way).
The website, NFLLockout.com, features an online petition to "Block the Lockout." The stated goal of this petition is to show the NFL owners that fans are passionate about preventing what some are already calling an "inevitable" lockout.
As we always do here, we encourage everyone to have and voice their own opinions on just about anything (thank you for taking full advantage LJP). You could say that promoting this petition on our site somehow puts us in the camp of the NFLPA, and squarely against the owners. I would argue that I have yet to see any online petition from the owners asking to hear our voices.
You see, at Hogs Haven, we have always firmly believed in our ability to impact the sports world we follow. We started The Revolution (not saying we were the only ones who did this) and we led letter-writing campaigns and public displays of disappointment in our Redskins franchise. It would be naive to suggest we were solely responsible for anything, but I do believe that we--as well as many other like-minded folks--impacted the decisions of Dan Snyder. Vinny Cerrato was fired, and Dan Snyder has introduced a much more fan-friendly owner since...well since we all got active in demanding exactly that.
In petitioning the fans to join the fray, the NFLPA is suggesting that the players' and fans' goals are aligned. "As football fans, we get to watch something that only 1800 guys on the planet can do. It is a physical, exciting contact--if not collision--sport that we are drawn to watch," says Atallah. "The last thing we want is for fans to think that they have zero voice in this thing. Unlike previous lockouts or strikes, we believe the rise of social media and these kinds of outlets absolutely allows fans to make a difference."
When you click on the site, make sure you check out the tabs on the right-hand side, labeled "What Is This Lockout About/What Is This Lockout NOT About". There you will be educated on the NFLPA stance on the issues surrounding this lockout (by the NFLPA). In the current economic climate, it becomes increasingly difficult to see the side of the billionaire sports owner. To be fair, these players make far more money than all of us do...probably combined (except for Liger). Yet, it must be noted that we show up to watch the players on Sundays...not the owners.
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that the NFL projected $1 billion in losses "even if a deal were reached late next summer that allowed the league to play the entire season." I asked George about this, to which he replied, "It was nice to be able to read about the NFL's financial situation in the Wall Street Journal." His point being of course that the NFL has refused to open their books to the NFLPA so that these or any other losses could be confirmed and/or debated. "Even with their projected losses, isn't it ironic that $1 billion is the exact same amount they want the players to give back? Also, this figure doesn't take into account that in a lockout, their costs plummet. This also fails to take into account the TV revenue that they would be guaranteed." When Keyser Soze talks, it is hard not to listen.
This issue will do nothing but pick up steam over the coming months. As always, I eagerly await my interview of Roger Goodell on the subject. In the meantime, check out NFLLockout.com.
We are trained as spectators in the football world. But as George said, there has been a real sense of empowerment in recent years among fans. Perhaps you will find yourself moved to lend your voice to the NFLPA's campaign to keep football from taking any kind of break whatsoever.