Sports: US Football- Old vs New School

Being a fan of the sport I am sometimes concerned with the direction the sport is going. Mainly with the attitude of the players. There seems to be increasing degredation of team loyalty which I tend to associate with the desire to make more money. In the old days, when players played with out names on their jerseys and worked jobs in the off season, there seemed to be a greater purity and comraderie associated to the game.

Considering the popularity of the game today I wonder what effects this shift will have on the culture of the entire nation. Has the sport, and it’s players, gone downhill or improved?

I think your problem is probably with free agency, and I agree. It’s become increasingly difficult to know who’s on what team each year.

Being a Washington Redskins fan, my all-time favorite player has to be Darrel Green. Why? Because he played for the same team for 20 straight years. He constantly turned down more lucrative contract offers from other teams in order to stay in Washington. Not only that, but he was a quiet guy who just went on the field, covered someone like a blanket for 60 minutes, then left.

Darrel, how we miss thee.

Free agencey would definitely seem to be a problem. Folks holding out for more money doesn’t really help thiings in my opinion, tends to darken the spirits surrounding the player; while the team is out putting it on the line this player is at home maybe watching it on tv cause he thinks he deserves more money. I just dont see how that could be positive.

Darrel Green: Most definitely one of my favorite players as well. You are so right about his mentality as well, no non-sense do my job kinda guy… you gotta like that. Seems like the old school style for sure.

Any favorite old timey players? I really like Johnny Unitas. Played for the Colts from 56’ to 72’, “Player of the Year” in '59, '64, '67, Three-time NFL MVP, Ten Pro-Bowl selections, etc etc… RIP Johnny!

What ever happened to guys like that?

In a word, greed. Greed of the owners and greed of the players. It’s almost a catch-22 situation, and the ones who end up with the short end of the stick are the fans.

I grew up in Pittsburgh in the '70’s. I loves me my old timey football.

BTW, my uncle played ball with Johnny Unitas at Louisville. They would share rides back to Pittsburgh for school holidays.

There are still some old-school kinda guys, Brett Favre comes to mind as one, kicking around in the NFL. Guys like Terrell Owens (geez-- what a creep) probably put a face on the other end of that spectrum.

And in the middle are a bunch of guys playing in a league that is fundamentally different than the idealized version we remember.

The NFL of the seventies is the one I cling to, because that’s when I grew up. Players tended to stay with one team for the majority of their careers (at least the stars) and while the salaries were still more than ol’ Dad was making, it hadn’t gotten off-the-scale ridiculous, as it has in recent years. Garbage players – second or third-stringers who wouldn’t have even been in the NFL before all this expansion – are now being made multi-millionaires.
It has become the norm for college draftees, yet to play a single down of NFL football, to “hold out” and not report to training camp on time, in order to squeeze more money out of an already astronomical paycheck.

I suppose some of this disenchantment is simply generational. I distinctly remember, watching NFL games with my dad in the 70’s, hearing him deride “today’s players” as being less dedicated/lazier/greedier than in “his day” of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

Objectively, I don’t think it can even be argued that today’s players are more talented at their positions and are more athletic than their predecessors. By that same token, I don’t think it can even be argued that they aren’t also more undeservedly idolized, coddled, and opportunistic than their predecessors.

I try to focus on what is “the same” in the NFL instead of all the changes, although it’s hard… especially with all the stadiums seemingly selling their naming rights to the bidder whose corporate name seems LEAST suited for a football stadium…

There are some “constants,” though… which I try to hold onto. “Hating the Steelers” falls into that category. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Sorry, moto!)

That’s the biggest problem I have with fans who claim today’s game is “worse” than before, or that players are greedier today than they were in the past. We all have an idealized view of what sports were like in our youth.

As Allen Barra points out in That’s Not the Way it Was, before free agency, there never was a question of “player loyalty,” because the players didn’t have much of a choice about where they were going to end up. And Barra argues that money was always a contentious issue between players and owners. It’s just that, especially in the days of the reserve clause in baseball, it didn’t help a player to say anything about it in the media. Barra also noted (I should add, this was for baseball, not football), that player movement between teams actually declined after the era of free agency.

Maybe it’s too early to know how free agency is going to affect the NFL. I think a bigger change has been the salary cap and its effect on NFL parity…and how does the cap fit into the view that “players are greedy”?

Personally, I don’t want to hear anything about how disloyal the current players are. The team owners aren’t any better as the followers of the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens, Houston/Memphis Oilers & Nashville Titans, Baltimore Colts/Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles/Anaheim/St. Louis Rams, New York/New Jersey Giants & Jets, Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders Chicago/St.Louis/Phoenix Cardinals can attest. Not to mention the teams (Tampa, Minnesota, San Diego) that extort free stadiums out of the taxpayers by merely threatening to move.

What the hell are you dragging the Giants into this for?

  1. Name me a star player from the Giants who got traded. (Jessie Armstead exhibited some of this money-hungry attitude, spurred on by the Redskins, and so was released. I say good riddance.)

  2. Name me a major position the Giants did not fill through the draft, or at least try to for years only to give up and get a free agent.

  3. Name me a major acquistion the Giants made at the expense of another team. (Ala the scumbag Redskins)

  4. Name me the football-inappropriate corporate sponsor to whom the Giants sold their stadium rights.

  5. Name me the disloyal moves the owner of the Giants ever perpetrated.

  6. Name me the taxpayer burden the Giants organization has levied upon its fans.

  7. Name me any major player on the Giants who was not drafted by, and has stayed with, the Giants, other than the fairytale redemption story of Kerry Collins. (We drafted countless busts over 8 years before resigning our QB position to free agency.)

You keep my old-timey, purist Giants organization out of this particular thread, thank-you-very-much.

Unless it is only to mention that the purity of old time football is alive and well, and it wears BLUE.

Somewhat of a hijack, but if you’re sick of the multi-millionare players and multi-billionaire owners, demands for new stadiums, the team-hopping (which I attribute to the salary cap more then anything else) that has become the norm in the NFL, you have plenty of other options for your football fix.

Go to a High School game on Friday night. Nothing beats football under the lights.

Go to a college game, preferably at the DII, DIII, or NAIA levels (Division I football is almost as bad as pro football in some respects). At the lower levels, guys play for the love of the game, not because of some scholarship or hope of a pro contract. In fact, NCAA rules prohibit giving out athletic-based financial aid at the Division III level.

Additonally, there are approximately 500 semi-pro teams in the US, so odds are there’s one close if you live in a decently large city. To get an idea of the semi-pro scene, here’s a good article for you (in my biased opinion, I play for this particular team).


This is a game, for goodness’ sake. I got a kick out Terrell Owens Sharpie episode. These are games. They’re entertainment.

They’re just throwing the ball around on Sunday afternoons… They’re better at it than I am, of course, but Randy Moss could make even me look good… (How about those mirror-image touchdowns!)

It’s no big deal. Sports is for fun. Enjoy it. Love the game. Love the excellence. Don’t worry about people switching employers.

Not that I don’t think you have some good points, but for an opposing view point I will offfer a few comments.

     A life in pro football takes a huge toll on the body.  Look at a guy like Troy Aikman, who has a number of concussions and who knows what kind of damage to the brain as a result of his playing days.  (Sound like an exagerration?  Look at Muhammad Ali today and try and tell me that couldn't happen to a pro QB that is slammed to the turf for 16 weeks a year).  Or consider a guy like Sterling Sharpe, a great player who's days were cut short by a neck injury.  Many players have a lifetime of pain and disability to look forward to after retirement.  

    Also consider that the "average" NFL player does not make nearly as much as the top stars and the average playing career is something like 3 or 4 years, so the "average" player that has been in the NFL probably does not have nearly as much money as you think.  And as with a guy like Sharpe, their career could be cut short at any time by an injury.  Any play, any game could literally be their last just because of the wrong move.  Dozens of players can be used as examples, like Terell Davis and Joe Theisman).  

       When you throw in probably 40% in taxes, a large chunk that goes to the agent and probably another good portion that probably goes to people like accountants, trainers and supporting staff, the salary is significantly less than what they sign the contract for.  (I mention accountants mainly because I know in the NBA at least they are now charging state income tax for the days that players play and are paid for a road game.  You could end up with 25 different state tax returns to file.  Not sure if this applies to the NFL, though.) 

       I don't really blame most players for tyring to get the most for their brief years in the league.  Are they overpaid?  Not any more so than any other entertainer in the country.  Top actors and actresses make $20 million per film, but you won't see them get hit by a 330 pound lineman or go over the middle and get drilled by a linebacker at full speed for that money.  As far as top notch entertainers are concerned, at the very least they sacrifice more for their money than most.

Before you decry free agency, imagine if you could only work for one company in your industry and could never work for another unless you were either traded or left the industry entirely.

Ellis, dear boy, your beloved New York Football Giants home field, aka “Giants Stadium”, is a burden upon the taxpayers of the great state of New Jersey. The good people of Jersey, through the auspices of the New Jersey Sports Exposition Authority, are subsidizing the stadium that your team uses and that the NY Jets use. See this link

You know, I used to agree with this sentiment - that the players’ greed was negatively affecting the game, especially when you talk about pllayers holding out for more money or huge signing bonuses. But there’s an important thing to realize about this: NFL contracts are not guaranteed. A player, even one under contract, can be released at any time by the time (most five year contracts are probably terminated after three, either by a contract extension or by a release). Under those circumstances, I don’t have a problem at all with a guy who’s outplayed his current contract holding out for more money. The main sticking point in contract negotiations, and the one that seems to cause the most holdouts, is the size of the signing bonus. With contracts that aren’t guaranteed, that’s the only thing the player is sure of - again, I can’t really fault the player.

I think the salary cap plays as large a part as free agency in players changing teams throughout their careers. With the slaray cap in place, there seems to be a cycle that teams go through - field a young, developing team that gets more competitive for two or three years, a very competitive veteran team for a year or two (your best shot at a championship), then… one of two things happens. The team either fields an aging team that can’t compete on the level it had been (e.g., this year’s Oakland Raiders), or the team is completely dismantled and started again from scratch (e.g. last year’s Baltimore Ravens). For a player to stay with the same team his whole career is as much an issue of timing as loyalty - he’d have to be drafted when the team is going into the rebuilding stage, stay with the team through the super bowl run and be important enough to be considered a building-block for the second rebuild. There aren’t a lot of players who are in that position.

The NFL is a business, and businesses are driven by profit. Prior to free agency and the salary cap, the players weren’t paid salaries commensurate to their value to the team. The players’ union started agitating for free agency in the '60s and '70s to correct this, and the salary cap was written into the collective bargaining agreement in 1994, starting the pendulum back the other way. It’s a lucrative business for both labor and management, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

There are two real problems that I have with the NFL, and both are problems with professional sports and society rather than football specifically. The first is the relations between the NFL team and the host city, especially with respect to publicly funded stadiums. An NFL team can, as mentioned above, essentially hold a city hostage for stadium improvements. The team’s position can be made stronger if the location is a warm weather city or a domed stadium eligible for a Super Bowl. Most, if not all NFL teams play in publicly funded stadiums, yet NFL rules restrict broadcasts of games that are not sold out. I don’t believe the taxpayers of a city should be subsidizing a local business to the extent that they often do, especially if the public benefit is restricted by the league’s rules.

My second problem is with society’s adulation of professional athletes, but that’s not something I want to debate in this thread.

Way to go Rush… urgh!

What I miss most is the smash mouth style of play that used to exist. To me that was very old school. Now there seem to be a lot of flash players… they guys who try and make that one big play and then show-boat with a little dance to make sure everyone saw what they did. The true players know that their actions will be appreciated. Maybe it is a modesty thing as well. There seems to be too much “cocky-ness” now a days and less constructive team work.

I cry bullshit on several levels. First, I couldn’t locate the exact tax burden you spoke of by following your link. Second, Giants stadium is home to 3 professional sports teams, not just the Giants. But the most damning argument I present is a quote taken from your cite:

All bolding is, of course mine.

So tell me again about the tax burden that the Giants caused.

The salary cap artificially lowers salaries. If anything, the players are underpaid. But it’s their own damn fault for agreeing to a salary cap. I hate salary caps.

Yes, I agree. I wish today’s playmakers like Dante Hall wouldn’t call attention to themselves after they score; they could really follow the models of temperance of the previous generation(s), like for instance Billy “White Shoes” Johnson.

Oh wait.