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Quit whining about free agency

Some guy over at The Daily Times in Farmington, New Mexico is all whiny about NFL free agency and how it's going to ruin the game. I'm done with the free agency whiners. They want to go back to the old days when the players had no say in where they played or what they got paid. In almost no other industry would this be acceptable, but in sports it somehow is. In our lives if we get a better offer to jump to a rival company, we'd take it and feel just fine about it. But we turn around and project our own sense of loyalty to the team onto the players, a sense of loyalty we don't possess ourselves. I've changed jobs several times and have no issues about leaving my former workplace.

Also, don't trot out the tired old argument that players get paid so much money that they should feel loyalty to the team. Doctors, lawyers, CEO's, actors and rock stars all get paid nice money, and they're free to work wherever they can get work. I'm not defending breaking contracts or hold-outs and the like; a player should honor his contract. But when a player's contract is over, he should be free to sell himself to the highest bidder. It's the American way. Of course, in making his argument, the writer of the article uses America's Team to help drive home the point. Like this paragraph:

But the latest free-agency period has proven to be a mental exercise in Twister for the average fan. And it's taken some of our love with it, too. Love or loathe the Cowboys, at least you knew who it was wearing that handsome headgear each season that you hated or adored. Now, you just know you hate Jones.

B.S. People who love the Cowboys know exactly who's on the team, we track free agents obsessively. People who hate the Cowboys really hate the team; the players are just a by-product of that. If that wasn't true why do they continue to hate us season after season, decade after decade, even after our whole roster has turned over?

He uses this example to point out that other mechanisms keep free agency from totally ruining the game.

Beloved Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones cannot buy himself a title each and every season no matter how much he might like to purchase Lombardi trophies by the score. Heck, Jones can't even buy himself a playoff berth.

It's true, because of revenue-sharing and salary caps free agency doesn't let the rich get richer; something Major League Baseball - which is his example for sports ruined by free agency - has never figured out. By mixing free agency with revenue-sharing and salary caps, the players can get top dollar for their services, the league remains competitively balanced, and teams can improve themselves year to year.

But this statement is the pinnacle of idiocy.

And because we are so passionate about our respective teams, it just won't be the same when Vinatieri kicks the winning field goal for the Colts this season or TO scores a TD for the Pokes. You say it will as long as the Colts or Cowboys or Broncos or whatever team that is your favorite wins, but it won't. The passion we feel about our teams is borne first from loving a particular favorite player. And what made a certain player our favorite? He helped our favorite team win!

We don't follow teams because they have our favorite player, maybe as a child we once did, but as an adult it doesn't work. Suppose Emmitt Smith was my favorite player, does that mean for two years I had to support the Arizona Cardinals? Ridiculous! Whatever it is that draws us to our team initially, the team itself is what we root for, sure we like our favorite players to do well, but winning is what we want, and the hope of winning is why we watch.

It's intertwined. But with the current state of free agency in the NFL, that sense of intimacy we have with our favorite team is becoming watered down to the point of where we are beginning to care more about the wins and the losses than what happened to cause the outcome.

I don't know about you, but I've always cared more for the wins and losses than anything else. You field a football team to win games, not to satisfy the personal feelings of fans to particular players. Free agency helps teams win games if they do it right. Thank goodness for free agency, the players love it and the fans should, too.

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