A looming lockout, a franchise moving to LA, a franchise moving to London?, an 18 game regular season, all of these things are just part of the daily drama pouring out of the N.F.L. and into the mainstream media keeping us hooked on every part of it. But this particular post is about the fining of players and the new approach the league is taking protecting its assets. . . I mean players.
To gain a better understanding of why the league is taking such a strong stance on fines, we need to closely examine their interests. Of course there's a general concern for player health but that's only part of the equation.
The N.F.L. is a business, no, that's not doing it justice. The N.F.L. is an empire, a Juggernaut in the sports entertainment industry and since its inception has been increasingly trying to better its product, the brand as a whole. What does this have to do with all the fines?
1) Player Health
Has everyone been noticing as much as I have the number of old time time players that are passing away at a young age? Young being younger than 75 years old. Just as we've learned the devastation of smoking, we're now starting to understand the long-term effects of concussions and brain trauma (up next, cell phones!). The league is taking this matter seriously for several reasons. One, its never a good thing to have your employees pass on before their rightful time. Secondly, with a soon-to-be-dealt-with labor agreement and potential 18 game regular season, you must convince the NFLPA that you take player safety seriously. Even more so because they will be asking more out of the athletes who have an average career span of around 3 years! (to all those fans who complain about athletes making too much money should consider that stat). The bottom line is that no player has to get injured on the field to enjoy the sport, so the league is making the necessary steps to prevent it as much as possible.
It's a hard thing to put a price tag on someone's head but if you're an athlete you're essentially an asset, let's be honest here. While the player strives to create value for himself the franchise encourages such growth to promote sales (all sorts of sales, apparel, tickets, etc.). If your teams star player goes down how does that impact fan interest. Look no further than Tom Brady's season ending ACL injury in 2008 to see my point. Fair weather fans are no where to be seen and sales go down. Just like any corporation the N.F.L. and its owners know having star players out with concussions does not help anyone.
3) N.F.L. Decreases Its Violence
I read a stat not so long ago that 50% of the Monday Night Football audience is female. Considering that with an increased push at targeting a younger audience (i.e. Fantasy Football, Madden, N.F.L. Play 60) Football has expanded from just kicking back with the boys to a full-fledged family attraction. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that as now more and more people are enjoying the N.F.L. and you know what, violence isn't that appealing to everyone. Sure I love a hard hitting physical game just like the next fan, but the majority is saying no and the N.F.L. is doing what any good business should do, adapting.
Now as for a guy like James Harrison, the great linebacker that I think he is, has chosen not to adapt and accept these changes. And I'm not a player so I could be misguided as to how hard it is to adapt. But the league has taken a stance to say no exceptions for anyone, and in most cases its working. Old school fans are a little disappointed but the new fans growing up with the game will not know the difference. Just as steroids once ran rampant in American sports, the sports still adapted to the times.
Of course this is my own personal opinion. I also completely understand if you, the reader disagree. My purpose is not to argue with you but rather show you how there's more to this fining than just picking on one guy. Believe me, the National Football league has more important things to worry about.