Browns J.C. Tretter has helped NFL stay the course
It continues to look as though the NFL deal worked out with the NFLPA and its President, J.C. Tretter of the Cleveland Browns, is headed towards a viable football season, Covid-19 or no Covid-19, while the NCAA is in substation danger of capsizing under the twin issues of liability and player representation. The latest buzz is that there is a substantial danger that the NCAA season may be cancelled altogether because there is no agreement similar to what the NFL has.
The NCAA is in a peculiar situation because it cannot easily negotiate compensation for the players since there is no player’s association, and to create some sort of negotiation process would threaten the NCCA’s entire concept of amateur student athletes. It’s not that the liability is so huge, so much as that they have no way to negotiate without allowing the players to essentially have a union. Once that happens, the fear is that the college players will be compensated in some way, and share in the billions of dollars of revenue that flow into college football annually.
If that happens, scientists say it would be the end of the universe, with the universe collapsing into itself and causing a supernova. Hence, the NCAA Board of Governors strives to ensure that that will never happen.
Doug Gottleib of Fox Sports Radio had a good analogy for the liability issue, comparing it to having a trampoline in your backyard. The trampoline is not the only thing that kids get injuries from, so the liability may not be huge. But if they are at your house using your trampoline, you could be liable for their injuries.
Similarly, college football can be liable for causing Covid-related illnesses including unknown long-term effects. There’s a legitimate issue. Once the players started to unite over this issue, the NCAA became more fearful that the players might unionize, so much so that the future of the season became doubtful. How do you negotiate without negotiating?
There were many fans who were not happy with old J.C. Tretter, as well as executive director DeMaurice Smith, for bringing up Covid-19 issues with NFL management. Their initial position was that players should just be placed on the Non-Football Injury list and lose their money, with everyone else carrying on as usual. That situation was completely unworkable, and a football season was not going to happen under those conditions.
But now that the NFL and the NFLPA working together have a plan that includes comprehensive testing, as much isolation as possible, and procedures how to respond, there is a very good chance that the season will go forward.
If the NCAA is to follow suit, they will have to accept that some sort of evolution is necessary for the amateur status of player athletes. There simply has to be some organized method of handling the real liability issues that have exist. It’s inevitable that the college players will have to be allowed to share in some portions of the revenue streams in a fair and just manner. That is, they are going to have to have adult-to-adult discussions. No threats and no temper tantrums (and here I am referring mainly to the NCAA rather than the players).
Truthfully, Tretter has been the Babe Ruth of the offseason. He has not made a lot of noise, but he got some very big egos to talk sense when it counted, and the deal seems to be in place. There is always a chance that things could go off the rails, but the NFL looks to be in much better shape than the NCAA.