The first game of the 2012 season is in the books and the victory goes to the Pittsburgh Power. That's what the record books will show, although anyone involved with arena football or is a fan of the Power or Predators will tell you that last night wasn't a fair fight. All of the drama surrounding the labor overshadowed what should have been a shining moment for the league.
Mere hours before kickoff, the AFLPU Executive Director Ivan Soto tweeted that the players were on strike. We heard reports that both teams had fired their entire roster and were in the process of resigning players who would be willing to play in that night's game.
Although some regular players made it into the game it wasn't the full complement of players we've all been ready to watch play. Mike Washington torched Orlando for 166 yards and 4 TD's, but was it really Orlando? We saw P.J. Berry make his Power debut. We did not see Kyle Rowley. the anticipated starting quarterback, and likely will not after owner Matt Shaner stated Rowley will never play for the Power.
I'm hearing that a lot of players in the AFLPU are upset at the Power and Predators players who crossed the line to play last night. I'm hearing a lot of last night's picket line jumpers being called cowards. I think it actually took balls for them to do what they did last night, as they were faced with an impossible decision. Stay on strike and lose their jobs and flight home, or cross the line and be labeled a scab by their fellow union members.
Orlando's players didn't have quite the same pressure on them. Even if they don't sign up with the Predators again, they were at least still at home. It's a lot easier to find a taxi across town for a few bucks than to try and organize a flight home to Pittsburgh at the last minute.
I can see both sides of this whole strike issue. The owners and players agreed on their playing contracts months ago. The players, led by Ivan Soto, turned around and wanted more money than what they already agreed to. They were at least proposing to walk out and strike hours before the first game of the season was to be played, though some players are now claiming that was a total bluff. Who do you believe though, the players or the owners?
The owners had to make sure the season premiere on the AFL Network was played. All eyes of the AFL Nation were on this situation so to speak. The owners may or may not have enough money to cover the demands of the players but I will tell you this. I don't know too many people who can walk up to their boss and ask for over a 300% raise and get it. I know if I went up to my boss and asked for that big of a raise and threatened to walk out if I didn't get it, I'd be gone in a heartbeat.
People will be quick to bash the Power for how this was handled, but was it really their decision or was the league forcing them to do it? There was so much secrecy surrounding this entire possible strike until it happened, it's hard to pinpoint who is telling the truth and who is lying through their teeth.
The fans of the AFL are the ones hurt most by this. They deserve better than what they saw last night, especially in what was dubbed the "Year Of The Fan." Lucky for them most of their teams won't have to watch a game with replacement players. Only Pittsburgh and Orlando's faithful had a vested interest in this game. The strike ended before anyone else could be affected.
The players around the league need to realize that they didged the same fate and should get back to being focused on playing football now that they have their deal. Forgive and forget. Players like Washington were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.
Real fair huh?