By Luke I. ’23
You’re one of the best football players in the world. You have money, confidence, and a stable fan base. Why would you throw that all away by getting into a dispute with your team? In the past decade, basketball and football players have gathered more power than ever before, which is necessary as the leagues grow exponentially, but also detrimental. With this power, NFL players have been holding out of training camps, practices, and actual games in order to get a new contract or to demand trades. Ezekiel Elliot did this to get a new contract, Minkah Fitzpatrick demanded a trade away from the Dolphins, Trent Williams is still demanding a trade away from Washington, and Le’Veon Bell even held out an entire season because he didn’t want to sign a franchise tag for the Steelers. Even 15 years ago, Eli Manning held out because he didn’t want to play for the San Diego Chargers.
Some players demand trades because of bad environments, disliking the medical staff, or just flat-out disliking the entire organization. Zeke held out the entire training camp because he knew that the Cowboys had to pay him, since he is arguably the best running back in the league and he’s only 24 years old. The question remains: why can’t Zeke show up to training camp, be a good teammate, and wait 2 years for his next big contract? By not participating with his teammates, coaches, and training staff in training camp, Zeke demonstrates a belief that he is above working for the Dallas Cowboys unless they pay him an enormous amount of money. They did. Jerry Jones coughed up 90 million dollars over 6 years in order to keep Zeke in Texas, and the crazy thing is that everybody knew it was going to happen. Holding out for a trade or a new contract has never been easier or more common. If you are good enough, owners will cough up huge sums of money to keep you on their team, even if you’re still on a pre-existing contract. Now, players can holdout two years before their contract is up and their owners will still pay them.
Sometimes NFL teams are terrible, but just because your team is doing bad doesn’t mean requesting a trade is the answer. Tanking has become a very common word that is used to describe when teams are sending away their players in order to gather draft capital. Now, a very clear distinction must be made; coaches and players don’t tank, the front office tanks. Some general managers like to tear it all down and send their players away to build for the future. A great example of this is the Miami Dolphins. Dolphins stars have become disgruntled, and usually demand a trade because they want to be on a winning team. Abandoning their team and coaches because they aren’t winning is lame, offensive, and disgraceful to the game of football.
I don’t know why teams trade for players who request trades because all that shows me is that if my team is losing and things are tough, this specific player won’t step up and be a leader. Instead, this player will stay in the shadows and just request a trade. In the past 3 months, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jalen Ramsey, and Antonio Brown have all demanded trades. In all three of these cases the organizations acknowledged their trade requests and actually traded them! All of these players were on multi-years contracts meaning that they were obligated to stay with that team for a good amount of years. The importance of this is that these players had no leverage because the teams couldn’t have no traded them and they would be stuck on that team for 2+ years. All these teams traded their players because they knew these players wouldn’t play for their organization. But, trade requests have only become popular in the past decade because before that players normally stuck it out and then left in free agency. But now, if top-tier players don’t like one thing about their organization they can send in a trade request and 9 times out of 10 the organization trades them.
Sometimes situations are worse than they seem, and other non-football factors might influence a players reason to demand a trade. Yet the sheer number of players requesting trades leaves me utterly baffled because they’re visibly disgracing their teammates, coaches, and staff members, as well as themselves.