Free Agency – Part Two

Written by on July 24, 2018

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS July 23, 2018, #702…Free Agency – Part Two
After further review…In our recent discussion of free agency in sports, we ask readers to log-in their thoughts on where free agency is headed. And they did, with not much of a positive note. The internet news jumped-in with an item that said one NBA team is considering shopping their star player to see what is available in the marketplace to gain several players. Can you see where this is headed? It’s certainly a far cry from the days when player negotiations were done mostly on a one-on-one basis.
It behooves me to relate the story of former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi and his star center, Jim Ringo. Ringo appeared in Lombardi’s office prior to the 1964 season to negotiate his contract and brought his agent with him. Lombardi asked why the agent, since for the last few years, Lombardi said, “just you (Ringo) and I had met to discuss contracts.” Ringo said something to the effect that it was different times now and my agent will talk for me. Lombardi excused himself and left the room. In about 20 minutes Lombardi returned, and said, “Jim, please tell your agent you’ve just been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.” In 1964, I saw Ringo on the Eagles sideline where he told me that story. Indeed, times have changed!
Curt Flood, star center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals played 15 years garnering 7 Golden Gloves, but in 1969 refused to accept his trade to Philadelphia Phillies that the Cardinals were making. In that era players were “bound-for-life”, called the reserve clause. When Flood’s appeal to MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Union leader Marvin Miller failed, he took his case to the Supreme Court. Flood lost there, but his case helped pave the way for free agency.
On the decision to go to free agency or not, one former NFL coach told me that “so many players today are playing just for the money.” When I asked about their concern for the direction that the game is headed, he just shrugged it off with a laugh, meaning – many don’t care! That same coach also said that some players who think they can get a better contract elsewhere, often don’t get what they were seeking and settle for less.
Players do have “the right to seek employment anywhere they like,” according to our constitution, but that doesn’t seem to apply to sports teams, who are exempt from anti-trust laws. While that may be a simple statement, it involves a considerably complex answer.
Will you log-in your opinion on the value of free agency?
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