I have traditionally sided with players in contract and other labor disputes because, after all, the game is about them. They are the stars that put people in seats at the stadiums and in living rooms.
I also have this thing about siding with David over Goliath and in the financial tug of war between players and owners, the millionaires are David and the billionaires are Goliath.
It seems this offseason, more than any I can remember, players are simply out of control with their complaining and manifesting and ridiculousness. You think Jason Taylor missing a MANDATORY minicamp because he wants out of Miami is out of bounds?
I wouldn't argue with you too much because, after all, he has two years remaining on his contract. But that is almost tame compared to what nearly a dozen players throughout the league are doing this offseason. They are missing offseason conditioning, voluntary OTA workouts, MANDATORY minicamps and more as they request trades or more money despite having iron-clad contracts they once gladly signed.
It is happening throughout the NFL.
In Buffalo, All Pro offensive tackle Jason Peters did not report to the team's MANDATORY minicamp this week because he is unhappy with the contract he signed a couple of years ago -- a deal that still has three years remaining. Despite being scheduled to earn $9.6 million the next three seasons and having banked a $5.75 million bonus when he signed the deal in 2006, Peters now reportedly wants a new deal that pays along the lines of the contract Dolphins rookie Jake Long signed this year.
Tight end Chris Baker is feuding with the New York Jets because he wants a new contract although he has two years remaining on his current contract.
Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson wants a new contract or wants to be traded and he has generally made himself a pain this offseason to get his way. Oh, did I mention he willingly signed a $36.5 million contract extension prior to the 2007 season that runs through 2011?
New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress signed a contract in 2005 that runs through 2010. But he now wants a new contract, and to underline his point, he declined to do any on-field work during the team's MANDATORY minicamp.
Philadelphia's Lito Sheppard, Marques Colston in New Orleans, Jeremy Shockey with the Giants, Osi Umenyiora with the Giants. All are
crying (look ombudsman, I'm doing it again) unhappy about their contracts or work situations. All have missed at least portions of this offseason's team activities.
I grant you it is hard to feel sympathy for teams in this increasing phenomenon because they often don't adhere to the spirit of contracts by cutting players before the deals are played out. Some teams also emboldened agents to do this stuff we are currently seeing by renegotiating contracts early when players outperformed their previous deals.
But somewhere, somehow, the current trend has got to stop because this is getting kind of crazy. How crazy?
Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was injured all but two games of his rookie season after he broke his leg playing on special teams. Then he fell off his motorcycle and tore up a knee before his second season and missed that whole year. So he barely played his first two seasons but got paid handsomely anyway.
Well, Winslow finally played in 2006 and 2007 and guess what? Now that he actually did some work for his money, he thinks he deserves a new contract. Never mind that he's signed through 2010.