When the rumors about Marshawn Lynch holding out swirled around, I thought a rather unseemly side of the Seahawk fan base emerged. I thought some fans under-appreciated Lynch and his contribution to the team, but that's not what troubled me. What troubled me was the way many fans seemed to have adopted a ruthless, bottom line, business mindset--a mindset I associate with Wal-mart executives. At the same time, I suspect these fans have taken this approach because they understand the hard realities of the salary cap, something I can appreciate. (I still disagree with the idea that losing Marshawn wasn't a big deal, though.) If the organization wants to put a good team together, they must do a good job with player contracts. There is very small margin for error, as overpaying a player or bad contracts could mess up the cap for the short and long term. Similarly, the team has to be very careful about renegotiating contracts, being careful to avoid setting precedents that will make team-friendly contracts more difficult in the future. I get it.
But the results of this is that the players get squeezed--and we, as fans, often take the side of management. We're almost never rooting for our players to make the most money possible--because that generally hurts the overall team. The players are on their own and they often face a stark choice: they can either choose to get paid the maximum amount that the market will allow, or they can choose to play on a playoff team. Even when players get a good contract, they may still feel pressure (and some guilt), knowing that every dollar they receive is one less dollar that could go to helping the team. Now, it's important to note that the salary cap, more than the stinginess of owners, creates such a situation. Owners and GMs have to put the squeeze on players, in the interest of creating a sustainable, playoff team. Again, I get it.
But here's my problem: shouldn't owners, coaches and other personnel of the organization be subject to the same pressure? I haven't thought a lot about this, but it seems unfair that the players have to be squeezed in this way, while the owner, coaches and other personnel are exempt from this pressure. The salary cap forces the good team players to make costly sacrifices. Shouldn't the owner, coaches and other personnel be asked to make similar sacrifices--for the good of the team? (Note: I'm not sure how owners would be included in the cap--and I'm not sure it's doable--but, in principle, my sense is that they should be subject to the same hard choices as well.)