I don't know why it would surprise me, so I guess I'm just a schmuck for thinking anyone who is involved in the NFL money machine would have any sort of conscience or even a sense of self-awareness to know when they are coming off like money-grubbing assholes.
You expect it from the owners. These guys didn't become multi-millionaries and billionaires by being overly sensitive to the needs of fellow human beings. But you see the United Way commercials with NFL players and you get fooled into thinking they might actually give a damn about their fellow human beings. I guess not.
Let's see if we can pick a worse day to have the players throw down and get all litigious over who gets what piece of the multi-billion dollar pie that makes them all rich (at worst) and wealthy (at best). Or more accurately, when they would stop pretending like they weren't planning on going down this road all along. Maybe the day after Katrina? 9/11? It's hard to find many days worse than today to quarrel over ungodly sums of money.
Let's face it, this day was coming. We all knew it. We knew that these two sides would not come to any sort of agreement at a conference table without serious missiles launched at each other through the press and public opinion and most likely, the judicial system. There was no way this was resolving itself peacefully and amicably. So today is the day the NFLPA decides to throw down the gauntlet and haul the courts into the mess?
Today. Japan is simultaneously flooded and on fire while its nuclear reactors are damaged and presenting even more danger. There are over 120 million people crammed onto that island and it is getting its ass kicked by tectonic plates and the ocean. There are scenes on CNN that look like they were lifted from Deep Impact or The Day After Tomorrow and now they are trying to avoid multiple Chernobyl-like disasters and the players chose today to flip off the owners and take their case to the courts.
Good move, boys. Way to really rally people to your plight of having to find ways to live on hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year. That couldn't wait a day or two? Extend the deadline over the weekend? That would have changed what? The deadline was already extended twice this week, what's one more time? They could have come out looking so good.
Imagine if the executive director of the NFLPA had met with the press and said something like, "While our position in these negotiations have not changed, the devastation occuring in Japan puts persepective on our dispute with the NFL owners and we feel it would be wrong to haggle about a deadline in a billion dollar industry while millions of people try to salvage their livelihoods in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. We have proposed to the owners an extension of the deadline to negotiate from today at 5:00 PM to Monday at 5:00 PM. Hopefully, we can use this additional time to come to an amicable agreement that we are all striving for."
Then the ball is in the owner's court to either act like human beings or be total dicks. They would take the extension, I'm sure, but whether it changed the tone of negotiations or moved anybody towards an actual settlement is extremely unlikely. In all reality, Monday would have turned out like today and they would still be warring over the giant piles of money. So what would have changed? Maybe the perception that the sides tried to work something out when slapped in the face with the cold reality that no amount of money is going to help you when the earth decides it wants to destroy you? Maybe the players would come off as real people who are uncomfortable acting like millions of dollars is too little to live on while millions of people are suffering?
But no. They decided that since they were going to come to this endpoint anyway, they might as well do it today. So in a battle that is being fought in public relations, the players have basically told everyone that they don't give a damn about anybody but themselves. That's fine and all and I suppose that is the natural inclination for people when push comes to shove, but let's not get fooled by all of those humanitarian ads they air on game days. Sure, they might throw a few bucks here and there, or agree to get filmed reading Cat in the Hat to poor kids to look like they give a shit, but they clearly don't or their actions today would have felt wrong.
This really should have been their statement: "We're not going to let a little death and destruction across the planet in a place most of us can't locate on a map deter us from our quest to remain incredibly rich for playing a game for a living. We aren't Japanese. What has Japan ever done for the NFL? Fuck them. We want our money. We'll make some public service announcements about how we'll donate money to them when all of this is settled. That ought to be good enough."