In light of the Eagles suspending T.O., I just want to offer an alternative place to lay blame - the Eagles ownership, and the institution of the NFL itself - its management structure, its anti-player, pro-white-owners rules, etc.
Specifically, though, the Eagles ownership knew he wasn't happy. They knew they were going to have problems, but they decided that feelings were irrelevant - or more accurately, that T.O.'s feelings were irrelevant - Fuck T.O., he signed the contract.
Well, they got lucky when T.O. was humbled, and said 'yessah massah', during the early part of the season, and the Eagles ownership was happy. But every man has his breaking point. Human dignity will always win out. Either a man will be free, or he will die trying. That was the lesson of The Truman Show.
The slavemasters of days past - the George Washingtons of our nation's founding days - have been replaced by a new set of slavemasters - the ownership and of the NFL (and other institutions like the NCAA). These new masters tried to beat T.O. into submission, and they succeeded temporarily, but T.O. showed the Trumanesque über-quality of human dignity. Its power is undeniable.
Today, the masters don't physically whip their slaves, they just humiliate them and command them to do as they're told, hoping those slaves don't dare to think they can even talk back, and if they do talk back, they slap them down with fines and other penalties. And the slaves don't physically kill themselves when they are unable to assert their own free will, but they kill themselves professionally, risking and eventually losing their paychecks in order to gain back some of their dignity.
T.O.'s paycheck drama at the beginning of the year was his desire to be recognized as a human - to be valued as more than a slave. It was his attempt to assert his free will as a human being:
You don't own me, NFL. I play football for your football team, but you don't own me. I am part of this decision-making process, too. I have to be, because if I'm not, I'll revolt. I have no choice. It's in my blood. It's in my soul. Really, I don't even have a choice in the matter. It's an institutional 'problem'. All humans have the 'problem' of needing to be free, of needing to be respected, of needing to have the ability to affect their own futures. So, this will happen, one way or another. I will be free, or I'll die trying.
So, let's look at the real culprits in this debacle - Eagles ownership. They know that they hold the ultimate trump card because NFL fans haven't been taught their own rights. Fans have been taught that any 'uppity players' are just greedy. They're spoiled black multi-millionaires. Everybody always says it - all the corporate-owned papers - and what's more, the players are predominantly black, so it must be true.
This will change, eventually, because I am going to begin educating NFL fans, but this process will take years. And until I am able to do so - or someone else, perhaps - NFL players will continue to 'take their own lives' in their fight to assert their free will. These problems will not go away, because the NFL is a veritable monopoly, by design, and they cannot allow NFL players to assert their own free will, lest NFL ownership profits be slightly decreased - clearly an unacceptable outcome.
UPDATE: Other examples of human free will attempting to exert itself? Paris riots of 2005. Like Atrios said, think "60s race riots". The resistance in Iraq? Free will. Humans are hard-wired to have their dignity. If it is stripped from them, they do whatever they have to do to regain it - even die trying.
What power do NFL players really have if they find themselves in situations they deem unhappy? The situation is even trickier when contract demands are involved. Holding out used to be the only viable course of action, but that has become a riskier tactic than it used to be. The player risks losing money while he sits out. He risks being ostracized by a public that has developed little sympathy for millionaires who want to make more millions. And now they also run the chance of having to return cash to the organization after resolving the conflict.
That was the case with San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan McCardell. He recently was ordered to repay the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $1.5 million after he sat out the first six games of last season in hopes of scoring a new deal. The Bucs filed a grievance claiming that McCardell -- whom they later traded to San Diego -- had violated his contract with his five-month holdout, and the arbitrator agreed. Essentially, McCardell was punished for not showing up for work. It was a ruling that sent tremors across the NFL landscape, even though it hardly received much publicity: The NFL owners have more muscle than ever.
So when you really think about it, the disgruntled NFL player really has only two choices these days: Stay quiet or create a real-life version of the Jerry Springer show at the team facility. Most players would play it safe, but a guy like Owens was built for this kind of game. I'm sure he's sitting somewhere with a big grin on his face because this was exactly what he wanted once his hopes for a new contract vanished months ago. I'm also betting that somebody else will try the same course of action in the near future. When it comes to changing addresses in the NFL, acting like a fool is becoming a more convenient way of doing business.
UPDATE: I dropped something about this below, in my Green Party/Feminist Party post, because Ralph's initiative is making my case for me, vis-a-vis the Green Party. That's important. But as it relates directly to T.O. and the hundreds of current NFL players, and thousands of future NFL players, it's about damn time someone stood up for T.O. I turned on some sports tv last night - ESPN, ESPN Headline News or whatever - and they didn't let up. It was a non-stop bash-T.O.-athon. It was even worse than I expected. So, thanks Ralph. Ralph's been fighting the good fight for a long, long time, and us non-totalitarians still appreciate a little dissent once in a while. That's a hint, Democrats.
UPDATE: Good article from the Merc. Slowly, but surely, folks are starting to wake up. The NFL wanted us all to string-up T.O. without asking any questions - and the national media did their part, as did the passively-racist, predominantly-white fans of the NFL - but things are turning. T.O. wasn't arrested for attempted murder - like some other athletes have been recently - he just talked too much for the NFL's liking. Is the difference in this case the difference in skin tone, with T.O. being a dark black, compared to Urbina's less-than-dark black? Or maybe there are a bunch of those white at-least-passively-racist NFL fans who are still bent about T.O.'s little locker-room romp with a white girl. Listen, racism was the greatest problem of the 20th century, and it's the probably going to be the greatest problem of the 21st centruy. Let's stop kidding ourselves. If T.O. were white, he wouldn't be fighting for his livelihood right now. The media, instead of attempting a modern-day lynching, would have offered a collective 'well, he screwed up bigtime, but he is back now'. It's outrageous.
I hope the Iggles get their AAAAAAAAASSES kicked this week. Monday. 9 PM Eastern. Monday Night Football. It's on.
UPDATE: Karma. But, from the same article, this is some sick shit:
The notoriously boorish Philly fans were just as eager to move on without Owens as the team. Before the game, radio station WIP-AM held a mock funeral for Owens in which fans put their No. 81 jerseys -- and even some money -- in a casket. One of the talk-show hosts, Howard Eskin, cremated one of the jerseys and spread the ashes in the end zone.
On the streets it's called DWB - Driving While Black. In the NFL, it's called PWB - Playing While Black. If a white person acted a fool, he wouldn't have had fans burning effigies of him in the end zone. Disgusting.