July 29, 2005

Hines Ward plans to hold out: and this, for me, is very disappointing. While many of the other wideouts, like TO, seem to be money grubbing, trash-talking idiots, Ward always came across as a "team man". News has the Steelers offering him a contract that would have made him the highest paid player in the history of the organization-and he turned it down!

posted by jlbelt to football at 05:32 AM - 33 comments

NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. Why shouldn't athletes be allowed to use their power to holdout as a negotiating tool? This is a sport that routinely destroys the bodies and health of its participants. I don't fault Hines or anyone else for trying to make as much money as they can, while they can.

posted by rcade at 07:41 AM on July 29, 2005

Hines Ward is on my keeper fantasy team. Every year I think about replacing him with some other guy (it's Javon Walker this year), but I can't bring myself to pull the trigger. Instead I hold on to Ward and his steady stats. He catches 90+ passes. His receiving yardage tops 1,000. He scores TDs. And frequently his team wins (mine too). Plus, he plays 16 games a year (he's never hurt or whining), not including his four straight Pro Bowls. He's the 37th (?) highest paid WR in the league. Right now he is at his prime. From my perspective, the Steelers are the disappointment here. Pay the man the money he deserves. There is no reason a player like Ward should have to sit out to get that point across.

posted by 86 at 07:49 AM on July 29, 2005

Last year, he was unhappy with his contract. But, Cowher & the Steelers convinced him not to hold out because he would be the top priority to get a deal done the coming up year. Now another year has come and gone without an acceptable contract. I completely understand his quest for a contract commensurate with other top receivers with as much guaranteed money as he can get.

posted by bperk at 07:55 AM on July 29, 2005

right on, rcade. the owners created this situation. offer guaranteed contracts, and these holdouts would stop. With an average career lifespan the shortest among the N.A. pro leagues, and a injury hazard unrivaled as well, players do need to get theirs while they can.

posted by garfield at 08:17 AM on July 29, 2005

Actually, I'm very much with rcade on this one. It seems by comparison that the players in the NFL get a significant amount less of the revenue as compared to the other sports. I mean, billions in TV money, and yet player's average salary is lightyears behind baseball and basketball (yes, I know there's more of them in football). On top of that - contracts aren't guaranteed and the average career length is less than 4 years. Methinks I might be doing the same thing Ward is.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:18 AM on July 29, 2005

I'm so sick of holdout after holdout after holdout. I agree, rcade, that football destroys the bodies and health of participants. How obvious. That's what's called "Choosing your profession wisely." Many individuals could probably increase their income by working as window washers on high-rise buildings, but they don't do it. Why? The fear of risking their body and health. I chose a career based on the working environment I wanted for myself. Working in an office is better for my health and long-term outlook as opposed to working in a factory until I'm in my 60s. As for the contracts, everything an organization can LEGALLY do is spelled out specifically in these contracts, including what is guaranteed and what isn't. Yet, these players still manage to sign their names on them. If players don't think they can own up to something they put their name on, then they should have their agent negotiate a shorter-term contract. It may sound harsh, but meaningless contracts ruin organizations. You may as well do away with contracts altogether and have every player perform year to year. Holdouts and contract re-negotiations are a big reason so many organizations get messed up on their salary caps from year to year. And this has nothing to do with Hines Ward in particular, because he IS a fine performer.

posted by dyams at 08:28 AM on July 29, 2005

The Steelers should do everything possible to keep Hines Ward playing if they want to be contenders again this year, including paying him what other teams pay their top receivers. Throughout the years, the Steelers have been able to build championship teams on the cheap and what they're doing with Ward now is simply more of the same. But, with Plexico Burress gone and Randle el having as yet to live up to his expectations, if Ward doesn't play this year (or a significant part of it) the Steelers are going to be hard pressed to succeed against the tough schedule they earned for this year as a result of winning the AFC North last year.

posted by tommysands at 08:34 AM on July 29, 2005

I have mixed feelings about this, but for the most part am with rcade, et alia. However that Yahoo! article paints a different picture than the one I read in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. In the PG article, Ward explains that he isn't asking for the kind of money Marvin Harrison is making. And that is the difference. The poster of this thread mentions that the Steelers are offering to make him the highest paid player in their history, but anyone who knows the Steelers history knows that isn't saying much. And, honestly, it is one of the reasons I love the Steelers so. Someone gets too big for their britches (or Pittsburgh), the Steelers let them go. And they bring in another overlooked unknown, and they move on. It doesn't always produce winners, but it is consistent and it doesn't entail keeping up with the Jerry Jones'. I love Hines Ward. He is my favorite player. He has made more catches in each of the last 3 years than the previous team records beforehand. He blocks. He plays the role he is asked to play in a scheme that emphasizes the running game. He plays through pain, and he praises his teammates. He is a good guy. And he is being honest. I hope the team and Hines can come to an agreement soon. The PG article has an interesting chart that shows Armani Toomer is the 4th highest paid WR in the league. That is a joke. Hines deserves at least to be paid more than Armani.

posted by scully at 08:44 AM on July 29, 2005

In this instance you have to side with the player. The Steelers have jerked Hines around about this contract for over a year now. He wanted to redue his deal last year but understood that with two years left he wasn't in much of a possition to negotiate. Now with only one year left he find himself in the season that the Steelers like to do their re-uping in. Every time Cower gets to one year he gets a new and better deal, I think Hines deserves the same from the team. Dyams, if the teams didn't hold on to idea that can end the contract and any time by cutting or releasing a player when convenient maybe the players wouldn't mind so much playing out the entire deal. Remember the contract is signed by the team also.

posted by seansterps at 09:01 AM on July 29, 2005

So, if Ward doesn't get Amani money, do you suppose he'll say at the press conference, "It's a nice deal ... but it's not a Toomer!" Okay, all obscure Arnold Schwartzenegger references aside ... My POV has changed here also, for the most part. Ward should get paid, and paid at a level placing him among at least the top five receivers in the NFL. Pittsburgh seems to have strung him along a bit. Steeler fans, I wish for you this headline: HINES $57M MAN

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:02 AM on July 29, 2005

The damn stadium is named after him! What more does he want!?!?!?! ;)

posted by scully at 09:05 AM on July 29, 2005

if the teams didn't hold on to idea that can end the contract and any time by cutting or releasing a player when convenient maybe the players wouldn't mind so much playing out the entire deal. I get back to what I said that ALL of this is specified (that a player can be cut, released, what money is and isn't guaranteed) in the contract, written in legal terms outlining all things the organization can do. It is a legal, binding document when it is signed, meaning the person(s) signing it agree to all those terms which are specifically spelled out. Teams hold onto these ideas because the signed contract agrees to them. If you look at it from the business aspect of football, then holdouts constitute backing out of ALL TERMS of a legal agreement, and you side with the owners. If you look at it from the players point of view, Hines Ward came into the league not knowing if he would produce or not at the NFL level. He was happy to sign the contract. Now that his career has been more successful than he ever envisioned when he started, he no longer likes that legal document he signed. It depends if you want to look at it from a smart business standpoint, or the athletes persepective. I absolutely understand him wanting more, but somewhere along the line a contract needs to mean something. Players need to start making sure their agents get the specified wording they need in a contract, but that opens up a whole new can of worms. Hopefully nobody forgets theirs a blood-sucking agent, looking out for THEMSELVES, behind virtually all of these holdouts.

posted by dyams at 09:22 AM on July 29, 2005

Holdingout is the players only way to get more money. How many teams have gone to a player and asked them to take a paycut or be released and not paid at all. The Steelers do it every year. Is this not the owner holding out to get a better deal for themselves. To holdout is the players only answer. Besides the Steelers said they were going to give him a better deal, Hines is just trying to make sure he gets a deal done now that would remove the risk of this happening in the future. Maybe he should have put in his contract that he would do this if he wasn't happy. How would that have gone over? From a smart business stand point Hines needs to do this now, because this may be his best chance he has to get the big deal. This situation has nothing to do with the blood-sucking agents.

posted by seansterps at 09:48 AM on July 29, 2005

dyams, you work in an industry where there's only one employer, right? Because if you're not facing a monopoly like that, your example falls flat. Especially since there aren't a whole lot of other options where Hines could expect to earn similar dollars.

posted by yerfatma at 10:09 AM on July 29, 2005

Actually, I work in a school system, where, by contract, I see exactly what I'll be paid and what I can and can't do. It specifically states what I can be terminated for. I can go work for another school, but with 13 years in, another employer will go for a younger employee with less experience that they can pay half as much as they pay me. So it's not all that different. My options are limited if I want to continue making the money I deserve. I, along with the teachers I work with, are not allowed to "hold out." It's illegal for teachers in New York to strike and not work. But my mistake, as in past posts on similar topics, is comparing the real world most of us live in to the world of professional sports and other entertainment industries.

posted by dyams at 10:22 AM on July 29, 2005

I live in the Pittsburgh area and currently there are 3 school districts planning on holding out "going on strike" in the coming school year. These teachers, like Hines, want to live where they are now. But can't get a deal done where they will be paid fair market value. I believe that they should be paid a fair salary based on their peers salaries. They could move on to a different area(team) if they want to but the best chance they have is to force the hands of their boses now in the cities they currently live. It is every employees right to get as much money as they can from their employeer and if they are unhappy about the current situation move on and good luck.

posted by seansterps at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2005

dyams, I used to agree with your point of view. a contract is a contract is a contract. unless a contract is agreed upon under circumstances that could be construed as beyond reasonable. I think there is a legal term I'm missing, but you get my drift. It reminds me of the employment agreement under which I work. My employer can fire me without much cause, just as I can quit without notice. Its a liberal, two-way street. The NFL set-up is a liberal one-way street. Hence the increasingly frequent hold-outs. If you have an extremely limited time span to maximize your earnings (with no chance for the long upward curve in earnings, common among most professions), you need to maximize those earnings while still able. Because as a football player, you won't make it to 65, probably not even 55, meaning your earnings will sharply decline for the rest of your life. There ain't no tenure horizon to look forward to.

posted by garfield at 10:47 AM on July 29, 2005

But T.O. is still an ass right?

posted by seansterps at 10:49 AM on July 29, 2005

Concerning Hines Ward's Holdout. Contract negotiations are a tough call. As stated earlier when a player comes into the league he just wants to sign a contract so he can play and get needed money. He only has faith that he can play in the NFL. Nothing is proven. Later, after his success he has the right to want to restructure his contract. I say this because this league is founded upon the players ability to perform and without that performance there is no league. Owners seem to think they are extending a priveledge for players to perform in their league when the truth is that it is the owners responsibility to keep the wages as low as possible while fielding their best team to satisfy the spectator. who really pays the salaries.

posted by silas10pony at 10:59 AM on July 29, 2005

The problem with NFL contracts is that a player can perform at the best of his ability, produce results that everyone is happy with, help his team win the Super Bowl, be lauded by everyone associated with the team, and still get cut by the team because of their salary cap problems. So in summary: Sign contract Play well Get cut with no recourse I have no problem with NFL players holding out. The owners hold all of the cards in this situation, and the only recourse a player has when he signs the contract is to demand an outrageous amount of money as a "signing bonus". If, like in other leagues, the contracts were guaranteed, then I have a problem with players holding out.

posted by grum@work at 11:02 AM on July 29, 2005

The whole point of a contract is a negotiation between the franchise and the player, money for performance. If both sides hold up to their end of the bargain, why would their be a "holdout" on the players behalf? An NFL contract normally has an obscene amount of money involved, lets not forget the "signing bonus". So my question is, if players can come and go whenever they want to and "holdout", whats the point of a contract?

posted by tuffy_earl at 11:40 AM on July 29, 2005

whats the point of a contract? That's exactly what the people who are in favor of Hine's holdout (me included) are saying. The contract means nothing to the owners because as the rules are set up now, the owners can cancel the contract in the form of cutting the player. So the contract doens't protect the player. The player can hold out, but evenually has to make a decision because [edited from Post Gazette link I provided above]: "During a protracted holdout, [a player] would lose 1/17th of his salary for each week of the regular season he boycotts. After Oct. 18, he would not be permitted to return to the team this season and would lose the credited year (and not become a free agent) unless the [player's team] petition the league for his reinstatement. No player can end his holdout over the final 30 days of the season, and he would lose that credited year." So this system benefits the owners in many ways. In the best of all possible worlds a contract is a contract is a contract. Except when it is in sports (and particularly the NFL), when it isn't worth the price of the piece of paper it is printed on.

posted by scully at 11:47 AM on July 29, 2005

Hines Ward is actually my favorite receiver since Lynn Swann because of his style of smash mouth football from that position. He deserves to be the highest paid player on the team at this time. However, if he holds out for more, then he may as well go to Oakland or Dallas where it's all about the money. When it's all about money, you are no longer Steeler material. Hence, Eric Green, Barry Foster & Rod Woodson.

posted by rdust at 11:59 AM on July 29, 2005

Steeler material? What kind of crap is that? Because he doesn't shutup and play he isn't Steeler material. Is this the reason the Steelers haven't won since the 70's? OH...I know, if O'Donnel hadn't been paid off by the Cowboys you would have won. Steeler material? Is that the thinking thats keeping Rooney's purse strings tied? Steeler fans have been pasified with "almost good enough" for so long that its no wonder they buy everything that the ownership is selling. I live in the burgh and everything for the last 4 years has been about how Hines is the perfect Steeler material. What crap!! Wait till Ben wants more.

posted by seansterps at 01:39 PM on July 29, 2005

I change my mind. Ben will just leave town one day because he'll get tired of dealing with the yinzer fans and their idiot ideas about what it means to be a Steeler. I got news for you "rdust" the players are sitting in the lockerroom laughing at every one of you fans that think you know what it means to be a Steeler. Do you think Swann would have played for $2.85 p/h? THEY ARE ALL DOING IT FOR THE MONEY!!!!

posted by seansterps at 01:53 PM on July 29, 2005

yinzer I had to go look that up on Urban Dictionary to find out what that means. And now I know. And knowing is half the battle...

posted by grum@work at 02:11 PM on July 29, 2005

Business is Business! Pay the man what he is rightfully owed. I will definetly hate to see Hines sit out, but the Steeler organization knows that they owe this man way more than what they offered him. Not only that, but Hines is a geniunely good guy, excellent player, and teammate. He IS about the Steelers, it's just to bad that the organization doesn't feel the same way. I stand with Hines all the way if he doesn't get what he deserves, I will be highly disappointed if he doesn't play......... Business as usual.

posted by royalgold72 at 02:26 PM on July 29, 2005

A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Known for their love of all things Steelers and Donnie Iris and extreme hatred of Cleveland. Donnie Iris, man that takes me back! I went to CMU my freshman year, had a show on the radio station and no way would I play his crap but others did. And trust me, I made them pay for it. Haven't we been over this holdout v. contract rasslin' match a hundred billion times already? If the contract was as airtight as, say, rdust and earl suggest then the owner involved would go down to the courthouse and get an injunction forcing the player into camp. That's what governments do when unions strike despite no-strike laws and what most offended parties do when the other side doesn't honor a contract. But no, no NFL owner has ever gone to court (or at least not in the last few decades) so they must understand they wouldn't win.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:20 PM on July 29, 2005

another employer will go for a younger employee with less experience that they can pay half as much as they pay me. So it's not all that different. Yeah, except the the pool of All-Pro wide receivers is a little smaller.

posted by yerfatma at 03:34 PM on July 29, 2005

It isn't fair to compare Swann to Ward. Different Day and age. None of those players were paid there worth back then, and that was a time when contracts were obligated. The Steelers won without spending big money. It's been a long time since they have won a Super Bowl, but winning has not been a big problem, and they continue to keep payroll down. That is why they have such a faithful following all over the country. They are a blue collar team. They aren't the only team like this, and believe me, I think Hines should get what he is worth. He just may have to leave Pittsburgh to get it. If so, the Steelers will suit someone else up, and go about their business. I hate to see any star player have to play for multiple teams, but it has become a norm over the years.

posted by rdust at 04:04 PM on July 29, 2005

So my question is, if players can come and go whenever they want to and "holdout", whats the point of a contract? It establishes what the player has to do to receive a set amount of money. It doesn't turn the player into a slave who is forced to do those things. When I sign a book contract that says "write this book and receive $x dollars," does this force me to write the book? I'm always free to break the contract and face whatever punitive measures I've agreed to in the deal.

posted by rcade at 09:54 PM on July 29, 2005

Great point rcade. A contract may be considered legal and binding, but very rarely is there a clause that states that there can't be any changes to that legal document. And yet football is just a game, so let's let the players play who want to play, and the employees work who want to work, so that we, the fans can enjoy the perception of two teams playing a game, not two businesses doing their job.

posted by rdust at 08:52 AM on July 30, 2005

Here's another perspective on the Hines Ward holdout. http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=citadel-2_414087_68&prov=citadel&type=story

posted by tommysands at 10:38 AM on July 31, 2005

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