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Free agent sanity in the NFL

According to a recent report, there are 13 teams in the National Football League that have $10 million or more in cap space remaining and teams are into their third week of free agency. It’s finally happening: general managers are taking an even-handed approach to free agency.

In view of this collective conservatism, the question is why? That’s the $8 million question — why are GMs taking an even-handed approach to free agency?

Teams are finally understanding championships are not bought…they’re earned. Smith Barney not withstanding (Google it, My Young Crunks!), NFL free agency is now a proven bust and GMs know it. The Washington Redskins and the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles doomed free agency.

But the $80 million question is why NFL free agency is a bust? That’s a more interesting, intriguing question, isn’t it?

The answer is simple.

Football loves the wretched; like a newborn suckling its mother, players consume the essence of the game when they’re desperate, downtrodden, forlorn and wretched. Big-time free agents are NOT wretched. Most players are subject to the laws of nature and when you have $20 million in the bank, it’s hard to be hungry, forlorn, desperate.

Human nature is the reason why there’s little peace, love and joy in the world and human nature is the reason why free agency has been a bust. When we’re made comfortable, we consume more and create less. That’s who most of us are and who most free agents are. And the only way to abstain from this human law is to face the reality of it, embrace it and remember what it was like to be desperate and let that desperation drive you.

The problem is it’s hard to manufacture desperation; you either are desperate or you’re not. That’s why the focal point of manufactured desperation must be something more than money — the root of the problem.

Players need to be desperate to prove their worth…to themselves. Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Mike Singletary, Junior Seau and so many other greats of the game were also some of the most humble men I have ever been around. Their humility was steeped in their own failures, not how others perceived their successes. They didn’t try to live up to their contracts; they tried to live up to the standards of play they set for themselves and were rarely satisfied with the results.

Free agency has a proven record of failure but it’s not a mystery; it’s human nature.