Though many fans celebrated the decision Monday to lift the NFL lockout — for the time being, at least — commissioner Roger Goodell is on the offensive, warning fans that the game they love remains threatened by the demands of the players.
"The union-financed lawsuit attacks virtually every aspect of the [NFL's] current system including the draft, the salary cap and free-agency rules, which collectively have been responsible for the quality and popularity of the game for nearly two decades," Goodell wrote in a column in The Wall Street Journal. "A union victory threatens to overturn the carefully constructed system of competitive balance that makes NFL games and championship races so unpredictable and exciting."
Goodell states that granting too many players unrestricted free-agent status would threaten teams with less financial freedom than others, thus taking away from the competitive balance and "parity" that the league holds so dearly. The lack of a formal union would also take away the need for a draft.
Goodell's plea expresses the belief that the superstars of the league will benefit greatly from "an environment where they are essentially independent contractors," but the large majority of players will suffer without fair contracts and limited health benefits and coverage.
"Is this the NFL that fans want? A league where carefully constructed rules proven to generate competitive balance — close and exciting games every Sunday and close and exciting divisional and championship contests — are cast aside?" Goodell wrote. "Do the players and their lawyers have so little regard for the fans that they think this really serves their interests?"
The NFL is appealing Monday's injunction ruling to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.