The NFL draft has finally come and gone and congratulations go out to all of the young men selected by an NFL team. We are especially proud of our own Jasper Brinkley although we would have loved to see him play closer to home than Minnesota. That ain't the way it works in the NFL though.
Football will no longer be just a game for Jasper and his fellow draftees, but a business, a full-time job that sounds romantic to us but in reality is a pretty demanding way to make a living. These guys will now wake up every morning knowing that if he is a pound too heavy or a step too slow he could find himself out here scuffling with the rest of us stiffs.
Just to remind us that the NFL is about more than just competition to the 32 team owners comes the news that the league is considering expanding the season from 16 regular season games to 17, or maybe even 18. Commissioner Roger Goodell suggests getting rid of two of the four exhibition games because they are meaningless.
By meaningless, Goodell really means you can't charge as much for tickets and the television rights belong to the home teams, not to the NFL. That means there is not as much cash flowing into the league coffers to be divided among 33 entities, the owners and the league. To us, we just thought preseason games were meaningless because they don't count in the standings.
We have to remember that NFL ownership is a group that numbers only 32, more exclusive than even the United States Senate. These folks aren't just rich, they are filthy rich. There is a difference, you know. Too me, filthy rich means you don't have a clue what you are worth and you are constantly striving to become even more clueless. This describes owning an NFL team.
Unlike a Senator however, these owners have enough sense to recognize that what benefits their brethren, also benefits them. If it benefits the league to add a game or two to the schedule even though they may not be personally crazy about the idea, they will go for it.
There's an old cliché in sports that says "get all you can while you can." In baseball, that means score as many runs as you can off a struggling pitcher. In basketball that means run up your tally while the opponent's best player is on the bench with foul trouble. For NFL draftees like Jasper Brinkley, that means make all of the money that you can while you are young because old age equals 30. For NFL owners, it means any time the earth is spinning, use these players to rake in as much money as possible.
Much of America's sporting public loves pro football, especially the gamblers. There is a passion about every game that does not exist in Major League Baseball or the NBA. Folks in places like Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia live and die with the Packers, Steelers and Eagles respectively like southerners do with their college and high school teams.
The NFL hierarchy will exploit this passion to their fullest advantage. Jasper Brinkley and all of the other rookies will quickly learn this. Their college fans despised to lose but did not despise them. Pro owners despise to not make as much money as they possibly can.
As former NFL coach Jerry Glanville said to a referee in an infamous video clip, "this is the NFL, Not For Long." So Jasper, you're in the NFL, a league where a lifetime is 10 years. Get all you can while you can. Thomson will be pulling for you.
- Web posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009