“The fans have been loyal customers. They’ve made everyone rich. They deserve some respect.”

Nope. Fans deserve whatever they’ve paid for. A football game, a beer, a hot dog, a jersey, a DVD, whatever. That’s it. The only demographic outside of owners, players and NFL employees who have any claim on the NFL are season ticket holders. If no games are ever played again, they are entitled to reimbursement because they’ve paid for games they aren’t going to get to see. I’m sure television networks, radio stations and other businesses have certain agreements but they have their own armies of lawyers and bureaucrats to make sure they are looked after.

It’s like saying I’m entitled to health care. Football – just like health care – is the product of someone else’s labor. Nobody is entitled to it – not even the players and owners. Once you introduce entitlement into the equation, it becomes slavery. It sounds silly but pretend for a moment nobody wanted to play football but yet “fans” considered themselves entitled to seeing it on a regular basis. Someone would have to be forced to play it. This is why “a right to” vs. “a freedom to” are two completely different concepts. I know Wetzel just said fans deserve respect but honestly, I’m not sure what that means. He also said this:

“People want to watch football on Sunday and asking them to choose sides in a fight over such fabulous fortunes just exasperates their frustrations. This is an entertainment diversion, just go play.”

I think he was reiterating what he considers would be conventional wisdom amongst fans but anyone who makes those assumptions is wrong. For players, this is not a diversion. It’s what they get paid to do. For owners, it’s a massive investment to which they’ve devoted plenty of time and money. It’s also a livelihood for many employees who represent neither side. None of them are entitled to the NFL’s perpetual continuance but it’s only an entertainment diversion to fans – and that’s precisely why they deserve nothing beyond what they’ve already paid for.

Somewhere along the line, Americans have confused freedom with entitlement. I’m entitled to my job, I’m entitled to my health care, I’m entitled to a certain salary, I’m entitled to education for my kids paid for by someone else, I’m entitled to “healthy choices” on someone else food menu, I’m entitled to a smoke free environment under someone else’s roof, I’m entitled to my IPOD, I’m entitled to football games on Sundays… Bull. You’re not entitled to any of it. You’re fortunate to live in a society that is capable of producing those things and you’re free to partake in them provided you can afford to do so, they are avaialble and that you agree to allow others to enjoy or not enjoy these various fruits as they see fit.

Don’t get me wrong. I love football. I own numerous Dolphins jerseys, I’ve attended more than my share of football games, I partake in multiple fantasy football leagues, I pay particular attention to the weekly spreads, I’ve bought DirecTV just for the NFL package… It would be nothing short of tragic to me if somehow the NFL ceased to operate for a season or longer. However, if Peyton Manning thinks he isn’t making enough money, he’s perfectly free to sit out until he gets a contract he’s satisfied with. If Dan Snyder is unhappy with the millions he’s currently raking in and thinks he should lock the players out for a bigger profit – good for him. I’m sure I’ll have an opinion on who is right and who is wrong but that’s for the courts to decide. If they all decide to retire and become Scientologists, I guess I’ll have to hope they start showing 24 reruns on Sunday.

Wetzel is right about one thing. The current NFL product is excellent. Both sides are foolish to consider tinkering with it so they can make a few extra bucks. I hope they fix this long before next season. If they don’t, look on the bright side: at least we’ll be spared the embarrasment of watching Brett Favre end his career on an interception for the third time.