As a Redskin fan, it is easy for me watch the debacle in the Eagles training camp involving Terrell Owens and his partner in crime/agent, Drew "Bob Sugar" Rosenhaus. While it is easy and somewhat pleasing to watch the Eagles deal with Owens, it is also disappointing. To be honest, I dislike the Eagles with almost every fiber of my being and considering that I live in
the midst of Eagle and Steeler Country, I am living in an NFL purgatory. When you consider that the beloved Redskins have done nothing on the field as of late to allow me to pole-ax the Eagles fan with, I am left to revel in the Eagles off-field transgressions.
In taking off my Redskins hat and putting on my sports fan hat, I have seen enough of Drew Rosenhaus' square jaw and his car salesman mantra to last a lifetime. My wife asked me recently who Rosenhaus was, to that question I had only one answer..."he is, in large part, what is wrong with professional sports". Now that is not to say that the athletes that he represents aren't to blame as well but his guerilla-like negotiating tactics are enough to make working stiffs like me want to watch figure skating on Sundays instead of football.
I understand the contractual system of the NFL. I understand that the only money that is guaranteed a player is their signing bonus and that they can be cut at any time their team decides. I also understand the concept of getting all you can get while you can get it. But what I don't understand is the "contract" part of the system. Is a contract not a contract? When did I miss that players could sign contracts and then say, "Um, no, I want a different contract because I had a great year" and then teams would concede? Apparently I missed it because it happens more and more. In fact it is happening at each end of Pennsylvania as the Steelers are dealing with the holdout of their top receiver, Hines Ward. Although neither party has stated publicly, it appears the writing is on the wall that an agreement on that extension is near.
Comparing the two holdouts situation shows two players that feel they should be paid more and given a contract extension. Ward is in his final year of his contract while Owens enters the second year of his with the Eagles. Neither player is more deserving than the other. Lots of players deserve to earn more but they honor the contract they signed. The point is a player
signs a contract to play their sport and unless they are extraordinarily stupid or generous, they sign a contract that at that time is for fair market value compared to players of reasonable talent, performance and skill. Obviously Owens signed the contract to play with the Eagles, a team that he hand picked, and now feels that his play has exceeded the contract. What about now? The same player who wants the team to play ball with him has blown the team off and upon showing up for mandatory workouts, shows nothing but disrespect for his coaches, teammates and fans? That sounds like a player who has fallen below the contract value of ANY professional athlete. I guess the Eagles could counter with that argument but in the end, no one will win this argument.
I may be a bit old fashioned and I have been known to romanticize sports but I can't help think of two of my sports heroes, Dan Marino and Dale Murphy. While in their respected sports, they were considered among the best to play. Never did either player argue for more money in order keep up with the salaries of those around them.
It's times like these that I also think of Babe Ruth when he was offered his first contract, to which he replied: "You mean you are going to pay me to play baseball". Oh, how the times have changed.