Friday, April 11, 2014

All's Well That Ends Well

With apologies to The Bard. Sorry, Bill . . .

Ladies and Gentlemen: Much Ado About Nothing (A football serio-comedy in three acts).

Act I – The Pro Bowl center and the professional football team for which he plays disagree on adequate compensation for his future services.

His name is Sir Alex Mack. He plays a rugged game for a living. And he plays it well.

He’s big, he’s fast and people are starting to take positive notice of his skills. That includes his employer, the Cleveland Browns of something called the National Football League.

Sir Alex also happens to be something called a free agent and the Browns want to continue to be his employer.  But the feeling is not mutual. The Cleveland team does not win many games and Sir Alex wants to move along to a team that wins more.

He wants to leave Cleveland after living and playing there for five years and being a free agent, he is in a position to make that happen. No, says Cleveland. We love you and want you to stay here.

The Cleveland team tries to negotiate a contract with Sir Alex, but fails to make him happy from a monetary standpoint. So they pin what is called a transition tag on Sir Alex.

If he signs it, that means he remains in Cleveland and plays that rough game for more that ten million dollars for one season. In a moment of insanity, the daft Sir Alex refuses to sign it.

The Cleveland lads are not happy. Sir Alex is not happy. No one is happy.

End of Act I

Act II – Sir Alex, the very unhappy player, goes shopping.

The joyless Sir Alex begins his trek around the NFL. He wants something called an offer sheet woitth lots of money from a team. Any team that does not begin with Cleveland.

He assigns his agent, a gentleman named Marvin, to solicit offers from other teams. Weeks go by. Nothing. Maybe Sir Alex is not as popular as he initially believes.

In the meantime, fans of the Cleveland team – and they are rabid (not literally, of course) – hold out hope that no team comes forth and Sir Alex returns to where he is loved.

Sir Alex, however, is still unhappy. Even so, he welcomes the owner of the Cleveland team, along with the team’s new general manager and new coach, who try to persuade him to come home where he is wanted and needed.

Not only is Sir Alex unhappy, he is stubborn. So stubborn that not even the powerful persuasive powers of the owner and his minions can change his mind.

And then it happens.

In a place called Jacksonville, situated in a state called Florida, a football team named the Jagwires™ (j/k) begins to fall in love with Sir Alex. The Jags need a center. It’s a perfect fit.

End of Act II

Act III – The team that falls in love with Sir Alex, the upset player, offers him a contract that seemingly plays right into the hands of the team he wants to leave.

Or does it?

The Jags, with that man Marvin pulling all the financial strings, put together an offer sheet and make certain it is extremely unpalatable to the Cleveland team, which has the option of matching the offer.

They craft it so that Sir Alex becomes a happy football player. A very happy football player. In Jacksonville.

It is a five-year contract that is heavily front-loaded. That means most of the guaranteed money the suddenly very happy Sir Alex earns will be paid off in the first two years of the pact. It also contains an opt-out clause after the second year.

Only one problem. The Clevelands have five days to decide whether to match the offer sheet, thus possibly making Sir Alex unhappy again, or finally cutting the cord and moving on.

One hundred and twenty hours to think it over.

The Clevelands put it in mull mode. For about two hours. Of course they will match the offer.

Sir Alex is going nowhere for at least the next two years. Happy days are here again for the Clevelands (except for maybe Sir Alex, who will earn an average of 8.4 million dollars a year), while Jacksonville wipes away tears of sorrow.

As it turns out, the Jacksonville deal is better and more Cleveland friendly than Sir Alex and Marvin believed. The Jags could not come up with a deal the Clevelands had to turn down.

So after all the angst and handwringing about what Cleveland would do, this whole soap operaish episode turns out to be:

Much Ado About Nothing.

End of Act III

Welcome back, Sir Alex. You won’t regret it.

Now what’s next?


  1. Act IV...The Clevelands draft a young stud center, groom him for 2 years, and wave goodbye to Sir Alex at that time....

  2. Not this year, Marc. I think Mack will stick around for more than a couple of years and be just as effective as he has been the last two years. He's really that good.

    Nope, the time to draft his successor is at least two years down the road. There are too many holes to fill in this draft than to waste a pick on a center.