Monday, August 14, 2006

What's really the hold-up with holdouts?

This past weekend the 2006 NFL season got under way with the each team playing their first preseason game. Many notable players were absent, most due to injury and many held out for precautionary reasons however in the case of Deion Branch and Matt Leinart they were absent for another reason altogether. Branch has chosen to holdout from camp because he does not agree with the contract that he currently has with the Patriots. Leinart has also chosen to holdout from camp because he is still in contract negotiations with the Cardinals. So to holdout or not to holdout, that is the question.
On one hand, I can understand where the player is coming from. I mean no one wants to be treated unfairly. I’ll never forget what Emmitt Smith said when he held out the preseason and two games to begin the 1993 regular season. Smith compared his desire to get fair market value for his skills to that of a plumber. Smith’s analogy went something like this, if you were a plumber and you were the best plumber out there, would you want to get paid any less than your competitor? So then why should it be different for athletes? If an athlete is the best at his position/job shouldn’t his salary reflect that? So here is my conclusion so far. A player deserves to get paid for what they are worth. Fair market value. It doesn’t make any sense for running back A to get paid less than running back B if back A is the superior back.
Now here are some problems with that argument. First, who decides who the best at their position is? I believe that is the biggest hindrance to contract negotiations. Teams and their owners see the value of the player differently than the player sees his own value. So who determines what the player is worth? Do you go by stats? Do you go by what a player means to his team?
A second problem is how do you determine a rookie’s value as he has never even proven himself to his team? I believe the answer is that a rookie’s value would be solely based on their potential. Also draft position plays a large part of it. But here is an example of the problem Leinart and the Cardinals are running into. Leinart was the 10th pick in the 2006 draft, so in theory he should get paid less than the 9th pick but more than the 11th pick, right? Wrong. A quarterback will always demand more value than say a center or a safety, even if they were taken ahead of the quarterback.
A second issue to look at when holding out is the effects of the hold out on both the player and the team. First dealing with the team, the most obvious effect of a player holdout is that the team misses that player’s services. If your star offensive weapon is absent from games, obviously offensive production will be affected. Also a player’s holdout usually affects teammates because a holdout is basically a player and team management butting heads. Other players will usually side with either their teammate if they believe that teammate deserves the salary, or they will side with management if they believe management is correct to deny a larger salary. This “siding” can affect team chemistry. Tom Brady is an example of a player sticking up for his teammate. One the other hand, it is believed that the Bears players recently let Cedric Benson know they did not approve of his holdout that occurred last season. As you can see the absence of a key contributor from games coupled with team chemistry being strained can ultimately show it’s affects in the win/loss column.
Now that we’ve seen what kind of influence a holdout can have on the team, what about the affect it has on the player? First it needs to be reiterated, a holdout is just that, a holding out from practice and games. Usually holdouts occur during the begin of a season, so a player holding out will miss training camp, preseason games, and depending on how long they carry it out, they may miss some regular season games. The most obvious affect of a player being absent from camp is that they miss valuable practice time. This applies to every player but even more so for rookies. For example, Leinart who is supposed to be the heir apparent in Arizona will now be third string whenever he decides to come to camp. Leinart is setting himself back from learning the playbook and getting in valuable reps with his offense. Also I would imagine that a holdout will leave a bad taste in the mouth of owners, and that in turn may lead to that player being out in that city. Case in point, T.O. in Philadelphia.
So the question is to holdout or not to hold out. How did you feel or how would you feel if your favorite player refused to show up to camp, practice, and ultimately games? Then again how would you react to learn that your favorite team didn’t value their star enough to pay them fair market value? Who is the bad guy, the player, the team, or is it a case by case basis? Let me know what you think about holdouts and how you suggest that they be handled.


Blogger Phil Silva said...

#1.. i swear i called that bad guy link being razor...
#2.. i dont beleive that a rook should hold out....even though u r a qb, you were selected 10th. mike williams (10th in '05)signed to a 5 year, 13.5 million..... Roethlisberger (10th in '04) signed to a 6 year 22.6 million. Jay Cutler was picked right after matt, and signed for roughly 48 mil..... so its basically a toss-up.

10:59 AM  
Blogger pete silva said...

deion branch can hold-out cuz he is vital to the Pats.........leinart shouldnt hold out for his own good to learn the system.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Situ said...

the fact that Branch is "vital" to the Pats (your words) doesn't that lend to the argument that he should be in camp? I mean if he is vital then he is hurting the team right?

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think with new players, the rookies coming in, should not have the right to hold out. Like you said, they are getting contracts based on potential, not actual experience. Basically they are being cocky to say "Oh, I am worth more than this measly 10 million contract." Um, I beg to differ. Also, as the team, do they not lose respect for them? I mean, you've given your team say 5 years and this new "pick" is making outrageous demands? If I was lineman for the Cardinals and Leinart was my QB, I might have to miss a block and let a sac go down. That's just me though.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I am anonymous. i forgot to put my name. My bad.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Situ said...


2:23 PM  

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