Brian Wilmer
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March 2 - Taking Off The Cap

It’s just another day.

Sure, it has been dubbed by more apocalyptic names (“Bloody Thursday”
among them), but nothing really is so different about this day.  Truthfully,
though, this day could mark the end of an era.

You see, football actually
got it.  The institution of a salary cap in the
game, while creating a slew of 8-8 teams, has at least given people in
small markets hope.  Fans in Arizona – well, okay, maybe not Arizona, but you get the picture – felt
going into training camp that they were on the same level with their large-market brethren in New York
and Dallas.  There has been no sense of elimination once the first ball was kicked off that many
baseball cities feel.  

Now, apparently, that equality is no longer.

Due to a squabble over four percentage points in revenue division between owners and players,
there will be no cap increase in 2006, and there will be an uncapped year in 2007, save for a possible
extension of the CBA sometime soon.  NFL teams planned for that 2006 increase, and without it, they
will have to jettison a large amount of big-name talent to get under the stagnant cap.

You will see Pro Bowlers, city fixtures and eventual Hall of Famers out of a job.  Mass media outlets
will embellish the dire nature of this occurrence.  Somewhere along the lines, we’re supposed to
somehow feel sorry for those seeking employment.

Don’t look to me for sympathy.

The NFL had worked itself back into the conscience of sports-loving Americans.  The ugly and
embarrassing labor situation of 1987 had long been forgotten.  Fans actually like this “everyone has a
chance” thing.

As it stands now, 2006 will be the last capped year in the NFL, with 2007 shedding the cap, and the
players’ union will never allow the cap to come back if it disappears, for obvious, self-serving

Despite all the public posturing to the contrary, neither side appears to grasp the gravity of the
situation.  The union sees a year of inconvenience for them, and then big money without limits in big
markets for its players.  The owners obviously don’t see what’s going on, either, or they would be
more defensive of their case in the media.  Hell, maybe even a lockout would make sense.  It is far
better to have a year of griping players than a forever-changed landscape that doesn’t benefit them
even in the least.

The NFL has unwittingly taught us sports fans another lesson.  Athletes and owners can never
handle prosperity for too long without getting greedy and screwing it up.  

On second thought, maybe this day is different.  It’s one of the worst days in recent memory to be a
sports fan.
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