Super Bowl Distracts From Harsh Reality

As the NFL prepares for the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIV, I can't help but wonder if this will be the final weeks of my favorite league's existence as a fair, competitive, and equal sports League. We all know the NFL will exist long into the future, but will it be the same?

Will the Kansas City Chiefs, complete with their up-and-coming talent and talk-of-the-town coordinators, stay relevant in the headlines?

While Super Bowl XLIV will be a great distraction, don't ignore the elephant finding a cozy spot in the corner of the room. He will stand out from the crowd cheering the Saints or Colts. He'll be the one hogging all the guacamole dip. This anti-revenue sharing elephant is as selfish as they come.

We'll all notice the elephant eventually, because the NFL is about to embrace the possibility of a season with no salary cap. The league is sitting on a lot of money, and clearly they're now aiming at maximizing revenue and success, even if it isn't fairly distributed among the workers.

What distinguishes the NFL from arguably the nation's second-most beloved sport—Major League Baseball—is the salary cap. Baseball is dominated by the wealthiest teams, most notably the New York Yankees, and the regulars who make the playoffs far too often. There is no parity in baseball, unless there is a blue moon and a Cinderella team takes the World Series by storm.

The salary cap makes the NFL fair. It's the reason why teams such as New Orleans, Arizona, and San Diego are currently among the elite despite ranking 22nd, 23rd and 24th in revenue this season.

Revenue sharing has kept the NFL competitive for ages. It's helped franchises with only average profit potential – such as the Chiefs—to stay competitive with the league's wealthiest franchises. According to Forbes, the Chiefs rank 14th among 32 franchises, valued at just over $1 billion. The league's top three teams (Dallas, Washington, and New England) are worth over $1.5 billion each. Spearheading those franchises are billionaire entrepreneurs who are all more than willing to attract the hottest free agent football players.

No matter how weak the economy is, the NFL will always rake in the money. High ticket prices, international regular season games, and personal seat licenses have made the league America's sporting king. That wealth is spread through 32 franchises. The Chiefs, and Kansas City, are fortunate that money isn't siphoned directly into a handful of teams.

But what if everything changes in 2010?

Will Cowboys fans rejoice over a sixth Super Bowl title? Will Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder finally assemble professional football's most expensive roster? Both of those are distinct possibilities if revenue sharing is eradicated.

In that event, what happens to the small-market Chiefs? There won't be much revenue pouring into the newly renovated Arrowhead Stadium without a good product on the field. We know the Chiefs won't be able to significantly upgrade their roster through free agency this offseason. A playoff season doesn't seem likely.

Everything could change with the players, too. While they will always demand higher and higher salaries, if there is no new collective bargaining agreement in place, the 2011 NFL season will be prevented by a work stoppage.

Strikes by the NFL Players Association in 1982 and 1987 resulted in shortened seasons. But at the time, teams weren't giving out huge contracts to rookies in comparison to their veterans. It wasn't until 1993 that the NFL adopted free agency in exchange for a negotiated salary cap. We can't predict the effect another strike might have on a modern NFL that exists in a different financial world.

If there is no salary cap in 2010, the NFL will undoubtedly be controlled by the wealthiest teams. Small market teams or owners with less money (especially the Packers and their fans/shareholders) will be left out in the cold. Billionaire owners such as Jerry Jones, Snyder, and Robert Kraft will have the advantage.

The Chiefs can't compete in an uncapped league with no revenue sharing. Potentially, it's a nightmare for all of us. Things could get out of control.

We don't know for certain that athletes and owners will get out of control with no salary cap and no revenue sharing, but to think it won't happen would be idealistic. We've all seen what has happened to baseball. It could happen again.

The last thing anyone wants to see is the Chiefs on the verge of greatness, only to be denied by off the field issues. It would be beyond heartbreaking to see the Cowboys, Redskins, or Patriots snatch up championships from here to eternity as the Yankees do in baseball. Parity has to survive in the NFL, because we all want to see the champions winning the Lombardi Trophy, not money. Top Stories