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Absurdity runs amok at start of lockout

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The NFL lockout officially hit the "Boring Beyond Belief" stage Monday when the NFL Players Association treated a favorable ruling in a worker's compensation case against the NFL and the owners like big news.

Please wake me when this is over.

About the only thing that can make this interesting is if we had Fox and CNN do dueling episodes to explain why, at a time when unions are under attack in Wisconsin and Michigan, one of the most successful and sacred businesses in our country (the NFL) can't seem to operate unless it has its labor force (the NFL Players Association) operating as a union.

Could it be that socialism – which is how the NFL operates (sorry Michael Silver) – actually works in certain forms? Could it be that workers often times have better rights if they're not in a union?

Short of that bore-a-thon (which would only be entertaining if Bill O'Reilly's head actually did explode), the dispute between NFL owners and players over how in the world they are going to split $9-plus billion has featured a number of truly moronic statements and arguments from all involved. That includes players, owners and even fans.

Here's a look at the five dumbest things:

5. Let's boycott the draft
The idea of the NFLPA asking players not to attend the draft had a certain amount of symbolism and there's something to be said for that. For anyone who remembers Sacheen Littlefeather and Marlon Brando, symbolism has its place. But boycotting the NFL draft doesn't exactly rate with turning down an Oscar.

In the grand scheme of things, this idea was pretty much meaningless for two reasons. First, the chance to go to New York for the draft is a once-in-a-lifetime event for a young man. It's a celebration of an indelible moment. Second, and most important, if the NFLPA thinks that players not showing up at Radio City Music Hall is going to move NFL owners one iota closer to getting a deal done, it is sadly mistaken. The draft is going to go on as scheduled. If those players don't walk on stage and hug commissioner Roger Goodell, it just means that we're going to spend more time listening to Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and Mike Mayock blather on about things like "skill sets," "high motors" and "projectability."

4. The refrain from fans that ticket prices are too high
I have read at least 1,000 emails from readers talking about how the NFL doesn't really care about the fans. The logic goes that the incessant greed demonstrated by both sides is forcing ticket prices through the roof and that it's never going to stop.

I get the point, but here's the deal: This is a free-market economy. The only reason that ticket prices are so high is that FANS CONTINUE TO BUY THE TICKETS. I used to have an editor at The Miami Herald who went through this ritual with me every year. He'd get his season tickets bill every year and then would spend five minutes complaining to me about how he wasn't going to pay anymore. A month later I'd talk to him again and ask, "So, Rod, did you really cancel your tickets this season?" He'd then sheepishly say that his wife refused to give up the tickets, so he bought them again.

So give it a rest. Either buy the tickets or don't. But don't blame the players and owners for the fact that the prices are so high.

3. We have to be illegal or we'll be illegal
One of the interesting arguments that the NFL attorneys tried to sneak by reporters last week at the NFL owner meetings was this bit of convoluted logic that was part of their court fight with the players:

In short, the NFL attorneys are arguing that the request by the players that they be granted an injunction against the lockout by the owners puts the league in a no-win situation. If the injunction is allowed, then the league will have to operate and put in rules that are violations of antitrust law, making the league susceptible to a class-action lawsuit. For instance, the existence of the "franchise" tag would be considered a possible antitrust violation because it is an obvious restraint of trade by the combination of clubs.

In other words, what the league is asking the court to do is to allow one system that could be considered illegal because the league can't help but do other illegal things. This is like a gang of criminals saying that they should be allowed to use 9 mm handguns, otherwise they'll have to resort to assault rifles.

2. The NFL is slavery
From now on and forever more, NFL players (and professional athletes in general) should be barred from ever making any reference to professional sports being anything like slavery. Now, college sports is a different matter (particularly football), but any job where you are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, doesn't get anywhere close to being compared to perhaps the worst element of American culture, ever.

Sadly, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson became the latest athlete to taste his toes in this regard. He was supported by fellow running back Rashard Mendenhall(notes) of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

View photo

Maybe Peterson should stick to eluding tacklers.
(Winslow Townson/AP Photo)

"It's modern-day slavery, you know?" Peterson told Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar. "People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money …"

Mendenhall later tweeted, "It's a lot deeper than most people understand."

No, it's not. In fact, while the NFL is a difficult, brutal sport, it is not even close to a civil rights violation. Sorry, but for Peterson and Mendenhall to argue otherwise is so ridiculous as to be moronic. It's an insult to people who actually suffered through slavery for an NFL player to complain about his plight. Heck, it's an insult to most of the American working class for NFL players to complain about their lot in life. I have no problem with athletes defending their ground and what they have gained. But Peterson and Mendenhall were just plain stupid on this one.

1. For the owners, it's not about the money
Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown(notes) proved that making stupid remarks wasn't limited to the likes of Peterson and Mendenhall. After the CBA negotiations broke off on March 11, Brown criticized the players, telling the Cincinnati Enquirer "It came down to the obvious point that all the union cared about was the money and these other things certainly didn't matter enough. It's a tremendous situation that they have and it has become burdensome for the teams. Yes, we're asking for some relief going forward. I don't think that was unreasonable."

Really, Mike? That's all the players care about – not the owners? That's right, Mike – owners are simply benevolent people who are in business for only the most altruistic reasons. In fact, if the NFL could come up with a profit-sharing system that assured that all the money went to the players and only the players, the owners would happily do that just to make sure they enriched the lives of the less fortunate.

Oh how I wish Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown were still alive so he could slap his Hall of Lame son. Dear Bengals fans, if you want to understand why you have one of the two or three worst franchises in the NFL, Brown is your reason.

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