The St. Louis Rams released O.J. Atogwe yesterday, and if you were pounding the pavement looking for an exemplary situation of the mistrust between players and owners that's led to the looming NFL lockout question you wouldn't be able to find a better one. Everybody loves O.J. Atogwe, and not just because the nickname means they don't have to spell Oshiomogho. Last year, after a long and frustrating courtship, the Rams locked Atogwe up with a five-year, $32 million contract. Yesterday they released him, because they don't want to pay the contract.â†µ
You might ask yourself: What is a five-year contract when you can release the player who has it one year in specifically because you don't want to adhere to the terms of the contract? Presumably the NFLPA has asked itself similar things on occasion.
It's true that NFL players don't have the bargaining power of NBA or MLB stars—fans root for helmets and laundry more than any other major sport, and the extreme specialization of NFL athletes means the average fan will be surprised, on more than one occasion in a given season, by who exactly is making tackles on special teams. But guaranteed contracts—well, it's difficult to see the owners' side of these labor disputes when athletes in the most brutal sport in America can be waived without recompense.â†µ
The craziest thing? Atogwe "hopes to be back." Maybe they'll sign him to a 500-year, $32 billion contract this offseason.â†µ