In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, an old curmudgeon from the past has once again made the oh-so-brave decision to speak out against the actions of this entitled current generation of NFL players. This time around, those crotchety responsibilities fell into the lap of former 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who got himself all wound up over the concept of player mobility when ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown discussed Jalen Ramsey’s recent trade demand.
There are obviously many problems with Young’s take here—not the least of which is how saying the Dolphins “lost their first game” drastically understates just how shitty that team has been early on, or the implied belief that the NFL should somehow be above the NBA—but the biggest one is the idea that organizations shouldn’t face consequences from their own players for the bad decisions they make. In Young’s mind, players shouldn’t put franchises in a position where they have to choose between keeping their star talent, or maintaining a beeline toward mediocrity, or worse.
In Young’s telling, it doesn’t matter if a team like the Dolphins are actively subverting their roster’s chances to win, or if a team like the Texans decides to make their smooth-brained coach the de facto GM, or if a team like the Jets is, well, the Jets. A player’s job is just to show up every day and do his job like a good foot soldier for an organization that will cut him at its first convenience. The former QB all but confirms this thought process when he basically voices his support for owners to fight back against their employees.
Young would have a case if the NFL operated in a world where every organization was doing what they could to win right at this very moment, but that’s not the case. Instead, it’s a world where ownership has an obscene amount of power over players who are quite literally risking their lives for sport in exchange for contracts that players might never see a cent from. The NFL has been that way for a long time, arguably since the league began. But when you’ve spent long enough convinced of the greatness of The Shield™ and the system the league, then you might talk your way out of obvious progress too.