Sunday, August 3, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #188 - August 4, 2008

On the Tunney Side of the Street #188, August 4, 2008

After Further Review … All 32 National Football League teams opened their 2008 training camps the third week in July with less than one-half of those drafted in the first round signing their contracts. The others had not signed by the day the camps opened. Oh, they will … but when?

How in the world can a first round draft pick, whose salary and signing bonus -- much of it guaranteed in the multi-millions -- delay getting started? Coaches tell me that it is VITAL for rookies to begin-at-the-beginning. The transition from the college game to the NFL is enormous. Who do these Rookies think they are, anyway? Some of the first rounders will be out of the NFL in a year or two – mostly because they didn’t make it!

Veteran players in today’s NFL games are hesitant to criticize “holdouts,” nor do they even seem to want to encourage their brethren to report to training camp on time. That same thinking is also present with today’s players who fail to admonish teammates for “show boating.” Players often just look the other way, as they did in ignoring the poor behavior of the likes of Michael Vick and Pacman Jones. A teammate's leadership might have saved those two – and others – for the fate that befell them.

Holdouts are not new. Players have “held out” for many years. Jerry Kramer, All-pro Green Bay Packers Guard in the 1960’s said that when he “negotiated’ with Head Coach Vince Lombardi, he wanted $27,000 to play in his 11th season – that was his total salary; no bonuses. Lombardi would only go for $26,500. Kramer held out; Lombardi finally agreed to $27,000, but that was in June and not a day of training camp was missed.

The 2008 NFL draft was in April. Why didn’t negotiations begin in early May? Well, often players in the first round wait to see what other first rounders are getting to compare their offers. Thus, it has become “play for the money” and not for the love of the game as it was in Kramer’s day.

Agents play such a dominant role in the holdout. The agent, of course, is the player’s main negotiator and, as such, has that player’s attention. The unfortunate issue is that a determined, often truculent, agent fails to see the value of reporting on-time to training camp. The value is two-fold: 1) the conditioning and timing of each player in concert with his team and 2) the camaraderie that is necessary for the chemistry needed to build a T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Accomplishes More).

Will you give your best to help build your T.E.A.M. chemistry?

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