Dave may be in Florida right now, but he’s not the only one capable of dishing out the conspiracy theories. So I hope you have your tinfoil hat nearby, because I’m about to dish one out for you. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately in light of the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, which appear to be taking a turn for the worse as the league takes a hardline stance on their insistence upon expanding the regular season to 17 games.
In order to get the NFLPA and the players to agree to play an extra game, the league is reportedly prepared to make a number of concessions, including slightly raising their percentage of the revenue shares (which was already too low last time), revising the fine system, and essentially doing away with marijuana suspensions altogether.
But did the NFL ever really care about its players using marijuana? Or did they only enforce it so stringently when they could precisely because they knew it would be a bargaining chip, something that they could ‘give up’ to the players in favor of getting something that they really wanted?
Let’s not forget that the league has been pushing for an expansion of the regular season for a long time now. A long time, like before the previous CBA negotiations. And then, they were talking about 18 games. The players still got shafted during the negotiations, but they kept the schedule at 16 games.
Now they’re looking as though they will be getting several little trinkets that look good for them, but at the expense of being asked to work more and put their bodies through more risk. One owner recently had the audacity of saying that playing an extra game is not a player safety issue—and yet they are trying to do away with plays like the kickoff because they’re so dangerous. But being exposed to more dangerous plays somehow makes no difference, because reasons.
Guys like Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant and even going back to Ricky Williams have had their careers completely obliterated because they used marijuana and got caught doing so. The league goes to crazy lengths to test its players, following them on vacation, at their parents’ house if they’re visiting, using very invasive methods.
Why do they go so far? Perhaps to make the process as uncomfortable as possible, and to make it so desirable to get rid of it.
The league doesn’t care about its players smoking marijuana. I fully believe that, and I entirely believe that they have no interest any longer in policing this sort of thing. They are looking forward to getting rid of it almost as much as the players are.
But because of how they have carried out their policies over the course of the past decade, they have turned it into a valuable bargaining chip to get what they want—another opportunity to generate additional revenue, on the eve of negotiating lucrative new television deals when the money will be more plentiful than ever before.