In veteran football writer Christopher Davies' brilliant article linked below, he describes the unique relationship the NFL has with its teams, fans and players.
The media has no holds barred access to the locker room and to the players and mangers themselves. As part of the contractual relationship the NFL has with its media, all information regarding injuries on players has to be completely true, all press get at least 45 minutes access to the locker room post match to pick which players they would like to interview, and any journalist who has written a story - positive or negative - cannot be excluded from the clubs press commitments for unfavourable articles.
What is the benefit of all this I hear you cry. Surely the media already intrudes on players lives' enough and fans are sick of hearing about WAGs, Ashley Cole's text messages and other nonsensical, completely irrelevant stories.
Well the benefit is that with a more transparent relationship with the media, clubs would get that holy grail of making the players relatable again. To the media, the fans and everyone in between. Which die hard Manchester United fan can forget the unbelievable atmosphere in the dressing room after the Bayern Munich game in 1999?
What would Liverpool fans give to have been in that changing room in Istanbul when all seemed lost and the might of AC Milan were laughing at them at 3-0 down?
The relationship between the fan, who spends his hard earned cash on watching their childhood team, and the player, who earns millions a year, has never been so distant.
From the players' perspective, to go from predominantly working class roots to being thrust into the spotlight with money and fame must be difficult to become accustomed to. For the fan who saves their money to buy the shirts and watch the games these kinds of gripes seem a little conceited.
Yet if we had the kind of pioneering relationship the NFL has with its clubs and media, the fans would see that the modern footballer walks a tight rope between his footballing image, his public image and who he is at home with family and friends. The current situation with Wayne Rooney is the perfect example of the benefits of this kind of arrangement for all parties concerned.
If, after a pre-season game, Rooney was interviewed one-on-one with a respected journalist, and able to air his own views without worry of retribution from his club or agent, the fans would know where they stand, the player would be relieved of worry and the club could plan for the future based on what the player has said.
The kinds of articles we, as fans would see, would all be football related and we would know our footballing idols as men as well as players. When the socio-economic gulf between the two has never been greater, any idea that repairs that bond between fan and player surely must be positive and for the good of the game.
In a time when corruption, cheats, grossly inflated transfer fees and wages are the order of the day in sport, any sense of transparency and honesty by the English FA, UEFA and FIFA must surely be a step in the right direction and that is why this journalist suggests we look over the Atlantic, at the NFL for the solution.
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