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What The NFL is Really Afraid Of: Outspoken Athletes

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For as long as mankind has walked the earth, there are the powerful and those who work for them. For many Americans, 5pm on a Friday means the end to a dreaded work week and at least two days of binging Netflix, or perhaps spending quality time with family and friends. However, there was a time in history where there was no such thing as the “weekend”, and where the work week was seven days a week with no days off.

This was until Henry Ford, in the 1920’s, decided to do something radical and institute a five-day, forty-hour work week. The change took the country by storm as workers started to form unions to fight their stubborn employers and demand to be treated as human beings and not machines. The problem for companies and organizations throughout history is that they tend to forget that revenue and growth cannot be completed with their vision alone; it takes a partnership from leadership and those making the product.

The NFL is on the doorstep of a massive labor strike in a couple years that it has been trying to avoid for decades. Players like Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett have been some of the most outspoken players in the NFL, but the problem is they play skill positions that can get replaced almost every couple years, so the NFL feels it can replace them as well.

The average NFL player has almost no power in negotiating how much guaranteed money they can receive because of the “salary cap”, an archaic budget rule that is now designed to keep players earning as little as possible while maximizing the league’s profits. With NBA and MLB players alike receiving max and super max deals that are fully guaranteed, NFL players have had enough, and now, so have college athletes.

The NFL Draft is approaching, and one of the highly touted quarterbacks, who often likes to speak his mind, has made statements that is making NFL ownership nervous. UCLA alum Josh Rosen advocated for draft-eligible players skipping bowl games, saying,

“A lot of people bash them, but some of them have to realize that some of these guys have families. Some of these guys have kids. Some of these guys really have to support the people around them. Some of them maybe have been put in unfortunate circumstances where they can’t afford to be in school for another year. They might want to, and people in the media may not give them that shot that there’s a part of them that may want to be in college, that may want to play in this bowl game. But if they feel they’ve locked in their future earnings to take care of their kids or that care of their kid or family, sisters, brother, whatever then I think people should really look into their story and see how football is affecting their life…” 

The statement that really has everyone talking is him saying, “Players are just starting to realize that they have a lot of power and they don’t need to be exploited when it’s to their detriment.” 

This has NFL coaches, scouts and GM’s talking ill of him by noting his immaturity and arrogance, but that’s the NFL trying to protect itself from the product on the field. Josh Rosen is a quarterback who could pan out as a starter, but quarterbacks very rarely speak out against the NFL. Even players like Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have not spoken ill of the league, even when their teammates around them were crying foul.

Rosen being a quarterback provides a voice for the players at its most critical position on the field, and that’s a game changer. A player who speaks his mind like Rosen will make players finally realize that there is no league without them, no billions of dollars; Henry Ford realized that in the 1920’s, and the NFL owners will soon realize it as well.

 

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