I've just been reading an article on the Australian Rules Football website. If you've never seen Australian Rules Fooball before, it's a strange mix of American Football, rugby and soccer. NFL Punters Ben Graham and Sav Rocca were really good players with big kicks in the Australian Rules Football League (AFL).
Anyway, I thought I'd share a section of this article with you because:
1) You may like to know that the achievements of the great man Jerry Rice still travel far and wide; and
2) In light of the ongoing (hopefully soon to be ending) negotiations between owners and players, it gives an outsider's perspective on the treatment of players in the NFL.
No team treats its players with such collective disdain as the NFL. Players are treated like cattle, cut and traded without a moment’s thought. The only thing you should know about a ‘guaranteed contract’ in the NFL is that there is nothing guaranteed about it.
There is a nasty edge to the way NFL teams trades its players and it is hoped that the AFL does not follow a similar path when the introduction of free agency at the end of next season leads to greater freedom of movement between clubs.
But amid the cut and thrust of its trading rules, the NFL has introduced the wonderful concept of the one-day contract. It is entirely ceremonial, but it does allow players who have played the bulk of their career for one team to retire with that team, even if they moved on.
The best example was when Jerry Rice, the wide receiver many consider to be the greatest NFL player, retired as a San Francisco 49ers player. He had been a star with that team before brief interludes with Oakland and Seattle. But it didn’t seem right to announce his retirement in the blue and green of the Seahawks.
While you'd be perfectly entitled to tell an outsider to go get stuffed, I think the author of this article does raise a good point.
Personally, I think the cattle-like treatment of NFL players is caused by the 53 man roster, which is way way way too small i.e. would Robinson, a loyal servant of the 49ers, have been cut last year if the roster size was a more sensible 60?
Is there any science in the 53 number?