The New York Jets know all about how difficult contract negotiations can go throughout an offseason. From Ryan Fitzpatrick to Joey Bosa, it has been most chaotic offseason in recent memory.
NFL fans frequently experience chaos; after all, they idolize a game characterized by violent collisions, two-minute warnings, and sudden lead changes. The NFL season is short, and every single play carries with it the potential to bring a team to the playoffs or to send it home in heartbreaking fashion.
Unfortunately for the blood pressure of NFL fans everywhere, not every season-changing play happens on the football field. Consider one of sports’ biggest current stories: Joey Bosa‘s continued contract dispute with the San Diego Chargers. In almost unprecedented fashion, its beginning to look like the 2016 third overall draft pick will choose to reenter the NFL draft next year in lieu of signing with the team that drafted him.
A difficult offseason has tortured Chargers fans. But they’re not alone. The longstanding Ryan Fitzpatrick contract dispute had Jets fans on edge for months. Fitzpatrick eventually re-signed. Jets fans rejoiced. Bosa continues to hold out. Chargers fans nervously grip the edge of their seats.
The power that a few wealthy men negotiating in closed rooms has on fans is fascinating. What’s even more interesting, however, is how fans react when their favorite players and teams are locked in contract disputes.
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Almost without fail, fans will side with their team’s ownership. Fans claim that the players are too greedy.
After all, NFL players make millions and yet they want even more.
If the players really cared about the team, about winning, they would take the first offer made to them.
Following the traditional pattern, the fans who responded almost universally blamed Fitzpatrick for being greedy and for putting his own personal gain above the good of the organization.
There are certainly greedy NFL players. And I would never begrudge fellow fans for their opinions. But it is interesting that, in battles between millionaires and billionaires, the fans innately side with the billionaires.
NFL players generally make a small fraction of what the owners do. The players have a very limited window of time to make their money. Our favorite NFL stars sacrifice their bodies and minds every Sunday, their very sweat and blood earning each paycheck. Whether it’s chronic pain, CTE, or the nagging effects of concussions, the players suffer long after they’ve played their final snaps.
As if that wasn’t enough, NFL players are released the second their on-field production begins to drop. Contracts usually aren’t guaranteed, and players are cheap commodities.
Look no further than current Jets’ running back Matt Forte. Forte did everything right in Chicago both on and off the field. But as he aged and battled injuries, the Bears made no effort to keep him.
Forte understood the decision. After all, the NFL is just a business. Fitzpatrick and Bosa also understand the true nature of the NFL.
The question is, do the fans?