I created this meme nearly two years ago. March 10 this year was the first official day of NFL free agency and like most other years at this time, moves are made and made quickly. Now there are 32 teams in the NFL, a limited number of free agents and goodness knows how many fans. Naturally, not everyone will be pleased.
Along with that, contracts are expiring or needing to be restructured and trades need to happen. Salary cap space needs to be cleared. Teams are either working to remain relevant and/or improve from last year. That causes for an EXTREMELY busy offseason and aside from draft day, it’s not often busier than it is now.
Back to the “not everyone will be pleased” part. Speaking of my Baltimore Ravens, general manager Ozzie Newsome played in the NFL as a tight end for the Cleveland Browns from 1978-1990. From 1991-2002, he was a front office executive for the Browns (of course, becoming the Ravens in 1996), and held his position of GM since 2002.
Ozzie is one of the best in the business, which was my motivation behind this meme. In the Ravens’ 19 seasons, they have made the playoffs 10 times and have won the Super Bowl twice. Through the draft, free agency, trades and other personnel decisions, a lot of that success is largely credited to Ozzie Newsome and for good reason.
However, every year it’s as if certain fans JUST began following this team and are not aware of how Ozzie does business. Even though many have surprisingly been following the team for several years, you would never know it when a personnel or player decision is made.
The biggest moves as of now is WR Torrey Smith heading to the 49ers and DT Haloti Ngata on his way to the Detroit Lions. Without getting into ALL the melodramatic reactions, I’ll narrow them down to the most ridiculous ones I’ve seen and heard:
1. “There goes the playoffs.” Wow. We’re out of the playoffs already? Strange, since the season hasn’t even started yet. Training camp hasn’t even started. Hell, we’re still more than a month and a half from the NFL Draft…yet playoffs have already been determined? Damn…now where are you people when the Powerball jackpot reaches nine figures?
2. “I’m trying to be patient, but…” It’s March. Seriously…MARCH. Not enough time has gone by for you to need to TRY to be patient. Saying that’s you’re “trying to be patient” now is like picking up a telephone, letting it ring twice and then saying, “I’m trying to be patient, but no one’s answering.” Stop. Every move doesn’t need to happen in the first day, first week or even first month. Just because other teams do this and that doesn’t mean that’s what we need to do. We’re not all those other teams. Ozzie treats being a GM as a chess match. He always has, and has a pretty good resume to show for it. If you’re looking for a GM to sprint with, try someone else.
3. “Man! We should’ve picked up (insert big name player here).” Why? Because YOU like them? That’s why that player is a good FIT for the Ravens? This isn’t a video game. Going after every big name is NOT in our best interest. On a video game, you can just about trade whoever for whoever with little regard to a salary cap. Doesn’t work that way in real life. One player does not make the league and it damn sure won’t make the entire team. I understand impact players, but remember that there’s more in place than just the player showing up to play. Contract negotiations need to happen as well, and it’s called a “negotiation” because ALL parties are involved. Just because the Ravens didn’t pick up a certain player doesn’t mean the organization is just the worst in existence. Players often go after money, but sometimes money has nothing to do with their decision. VERY often, players will choose a team close to the city they want to retire in, no matter how much money is offered elsewhere. Yes, players DO make decisions for themselves and their families as well, and the Ravens may likely have very little impact on that decision.
4. “Just pay (whoever)!” No. You can’t “just pay” whoever whatever they want. Again, more to it than just throwing money at someone. The Ravens haven’t gotten to where they are by just throwing money at players for whatever amount they ask for and it has nothing to do with being cheap. The owners know that better players will put more money in their pockets. However, they also know how they got all that money in their pockets in the first place. Every contract can’t be a max contract just because we as fans “like” someone or feel a certain free agent is the Second Coming.
5. “If Joe Flacco took a paycut, then we’d be able to keep other players.” Contrary to popular belief, Joe Flacco was NOT the first player to ever receive a HUGE contract (6 years, $120.6 million, signed in 2013). Also, keep in mind that a player’s average salary is NOT that player’s cap number for that year. In this case, Flacco’s average salary is a little more than $20 million per year, but that is NOT what he’s actually getting each year. That’s why the cap numbers are different. Usually the cap numbers get higher as they progress into the contract. That’s why near the end of contracts, players are either cut, traded, or the contract is restructured (which is often followed by extensions). As for Flacco, no, he does not need to take a pay cut. Why should he sacrifice his money (as ridiculous of an amount as many may feel it is) just because YOU want us to keep someone or pick up someone else? How about that player who is asking for more money than the team is willing to part with? How about THEY ask for less money? What’s good for the goose, right?
6. “Ozzie doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.” Pardon me while I laugh. Seriously. While I laugh, be sure to post in the comments section how many years of NFL GM experience you have.
7. “I’m done being a Ravens fan.” Seriously…were you even really one in the first place? I mean REALLY one? If something that happens with EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE LEAGUE EVERY YEAR happens and it’s enough to make you jump ship, even when we’re still five months away from the preseason, you’re the kind of dead weight that getting rid of will only help our fan base.
8. “We’re losing all our players! Who are we gonna play with?!!” Obviously if we are letting players go, it’s because there’s a plan to get others in their place. Just because we hear of players being released doesn’t mean those vacancies will continue to exist. I thought that one was common sense, but maybe that’s just me.
9. “I’m just SO sick about (the trade/letting someone go).” Very seldom are these possibilities completely shocking, so “sick” is being melodramatic. Bothered, upset, even “mad,” is acceptable. Again, we become attached to these players. But “sick” is just a bit over the top. That’s like saying, “I’m just so SICK that it rained when we were supposed to have a picnic today.” Unless it completely went against the weather report (which you should have checked anyway), it was always a possibility. There are a LOT of things in life it’s okay to be “sick” about. Your favorite player being traded, released, etc., is not one of them. Especially not with our history. Now if we were historically a lousy franchise and we couldn’t land big names AND we had little to no success in drafting quality players, hell, even in that case, you shouldn’t be sick. You should be numb.
10. “They (the players) have no loyalty anymore.” Loyalty to who? Us, the fans? The team? How about their families? The business side of football can VERY cold in a LOT of ways. One thing I think a lot of people miss is that the PLAYERS also have their minds on the “business” side of football for the sake of either themselves or their families. In other words, when player decisions are made, more often than not, we blame the organization for “not doing enough” or “not paying enough” to keep the player there. We don’t realize that some players want to take full advantage of the money they could make as well.
Even though there is a level of loyalty to certain teams that is “expected,” that “loyalty” doesn’t always exist, and quite frankly, it shouldn’t. Not to us. These players understand that a football career can end at ANY time and while many are making ridiculous amounts of money, some aren’t making close to that much and they want to cash in. When the average football career ends at age 26, it’s not too farfetched for players to think that way. Now I know that many will think, “Damn, all that money and they still need more?!” Yes…THEY do. Even if they don’t, they simply want to get as much as they can before they hang up the cleats. On top of that, we seem to think we know what motive the players have one way or the other. In other words, if we feel a player “has class,” then of course, there’s NO WAY they would be after money, right? Folks said that about Torrey Smith. “I thought he had class, but I guess he doesn’t.” A classy person could still be looking to make as much money as he/she can while doing the job they’re best at.
On top of that, let’s be honest with ourselves. There are millions of fans out there. For a lot of you talking about “loyalty,” for many of you, it wouldn’t be a question as far as leaving one team for more money on another. Hell, people sit on Facebook sharing random pictures of money thinking they’re going to come into it. It’s not that farfetched to think that most of the people talking about a player’s “loyalty” wouldn’t do the same thing, even faster than these other players are doing. To be totally honest, I’m not even sure I wouldn’t. Other factors would come into play, but if I’m in their situations, I’m not about to sit here and pretend otherwise.
Anyway, I could keep going. This is not a crusade against Freedom of Speech, before anyone says that. Relax. These are just some things our fans say that I find to be a little ridiculous. Nah, I don’t expect to change anyone’s minds with this.
However, that hasn’t stopped any of them, right?