They may still call baseball "America's Pastime," but the truth is, football is king in this country. The NFL has been wildly successful in fielding the sport and making it a year-round obsession for fans. From the draft in April to the Superbowl in February, it's football that produces the biggest parties, tailgates, and crowds.
But if the NFL and the NFL Players Association don't agree to extend the collective bargaining agreement deadline by midnight tonight, it may be time to consider a radical option.
End the NFL.
I'm not talking about the end of professional football. What I'm talking about is a passing of the torch-- from 32 owners who don't give a damn about fans or players, to 32 new owners who would respect the fans and instantly agree to adopt the previous collective bargaining agreement that has made football the most successful and financially sound league of all American sports.
A de-certification of the players union and a lengthy lockout from the NFL owners would effectively put the NFL "out of business," transforming every NFL player into a free agent, at liberty to bring their talents anywhere. The UFL and CFL have struggled to grab a foothold in the American football market for quite some time now... could they take advantage and create a new American football league?
Already, posters on UFL message boards are drooling at the prospect.
At issue is this: do you believe it's the NFL executives and owners that make the NFL so great, or the players?
Certainly, a new league or expanded UFL/CFL would undergo growing pains. You don't go from a second-class outfit to "the big leagues" overnight. But NFL-caliber talent attracts NFL-caliber dollars. What would happen if Coach Bill, Tom Brady and the rest of his New England Patriots teammates decided to all join the Hartford Colonials? Would all those Patriots fans stick with Bob Kraft? Or would they throw on "New England Colonials" jerseys? I'd say the latter. Other teams can follow suit, joining existing UFL/CFL teams or new expansion teams, headed by investors who have been itching for a piece of the NFL pie for years. There's plenty of places to play football other than NFL-owned stadiums. How about the Lions playing in Michigan Stadium? They'd probably have MORE fans fill the seats there than currently do at Pontiac.
Of course, players wouldn't be bound to stay with their previous squads. What if a group of Pro Bowlers decided they wanted to start a team in South Beach, ala LeBron and company? Forget about the sad sack Miami Dolphins, welcome to the juggernaut Miami Sharks.
Certainly, ticket sales, a tv deal,and a wave of new merchandise would all raise money for the fledgling league and help pay salaries. The UFL today pays their players a pittance... but only because the league earns a pittance. With legions of football fans having nowhere else to turn, a new league would have a market of hungry fans willing to spend the money they once spent on the NFL.
No, it's not likely. But why are we trusting 32 people with a sport we love? Especially when they've shown they value money over the sport itself?