With the NFL (and especially the Redskins) on the verge of a player cutting disaster, as teams over the salary cap are forced to cut veterans and quality players to get on the good side again, I asked myself this simple question: Why does the NFL have a salary cap?
I understand the logic around a salary cap and the idea that by keeping all the teams at approximately the same financial level, even the smaller market teams can compete each and every year. One can only look at baseball as a prime example of a league where the lack of a salary cap has made many teams (Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Kansas City) nearly unwatchable. However, is football really that similar to baseball?
When I think about football, I would consider it the closest thing to a true "team" sport you can find. With baseball, a dominant pitcher alone can dramatically change the outcome of a team's record. Basketball is even more skewed towards an individual. With football, however, I really don't feel that that is necessarily the case. Obviously, better players are going to make a team more "skilled", but the Patriots and Steelers have proven that it is not necessarily about having the best players to be the Super Bowl Champion. On the other side of that coin, the Redskins under their first few years with Dan Snyder signed the "best" players and fell right on their face.
The point I am getting at is that each team consists of 22 players (more than baseball, hockey, and basketball) who must all work together to form a cohesive unit in order to succeed. Skill is important, but teamwork and communication is even more key. In addition to that, one must also look into the length of the schedule.
For basketball, baseball and hockey, you have significantly longer seasons. It doesn't take a genious to figure out that over a longer season, the more talented teams are going to rise to the top. Yes, a less talented team can beat them once or twice, but not 5-10 times. With football, you get 16 games total, and every one of them is important...just ask the Chargers and Chiefs. If the Royals played in a 16 game season, I bet you they might be a playoff team every once and a while. Check the standings on April 20 and see who's going to the playoffs. Hell, didn't the D-Rays beat the Yankees in the season series last year? And this isn't taking into consideration injuries.
So why do I mention these points? Simple. If the biggest drawback to an NFL without a salary cap is that teams (like the Redskins) would throw their big market money around and get all the best players, thus making certain teams non-competetive, I don't think that argument is valid.
But with no salary cap, the player's salaries would continue to rise to ridiculously high levels, what about that? Good for them. I don't know if any of you guys saw Any Given Sunday (I'm sure you all did), but the doctor hit the nail on the head in describing these guys. When an offensive lineman or a running back (plus the others) ends his career, he still has to go on living with the pain his career inflicting on him...for the rest of his life. I read an article that discussed the physics behind an NFL hit, and a direct comparison was falling off a 4 or 5 story building onto pavement or some shit like that...not sure about the facts, but it was bad. If someone is gonna put their body through that and go on living with pain and horrible arthritis all for other people's entertainment, shit, pay the man millions upon millions of dollars.
But the ticket prices would continue to rise, prohibiting the common family from attending a game, what about that? I always love this argument when people talk about all sports. Have you been to a game recently? It's already that way. Corporations and other businesses buy up all the good tickets, and even the crappy seats are over $20 each. That's why I go to Union Jack's to watch the games. Trust me, it's actually just as good of an experience...25% off burgers and appetizers!
So, I've vented my thoughts, I'm sure some of you guys are gonna disagree with me, and that's fine. But when guys such as long time Cowboy La'Roi Glover and long time Colt Edgerrin James, among others, are forced to change teams because of salary cap restrictions, something just ain't right. Toss the cap...they've got 3 more days, make it happen.