By Drew Gallagher
October 7, 2019
Drew Gallagher is a second-year Sport Management student with a minor in General Business at Bowling Green State University. Drew is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports, but focuses primarily on baseball and football at the professional and collegiate levels.
On Wednesday, September 25th, Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers decided to end his hold out and returned to his team. His hold out for a better contract began in training camp and lasted until week 4 of the NFL season (Gordon, 2019). In the middle of the holdout in early August, “Melvin Gordon’s agent Damarius Bilbo [had] requested that the Los Angeles Chargers trade his client” (Abdeldaiem, 2019, para 1). The holdout included its share of ups and downs, but still seemed relatively quiet. This is especially apparent when put side-by-side with Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 holdout which lasted the entire season.
As a reminder, Le’Veon Bell was a member of the Steelers who was also in the last year of his contract. He decided in training camp that he wanted to hold out for a long-term deal with his current team. Both his camp and the Steelers had many separate contract negotiations throughout the preseason and early 2018 season, but no new deal came about. Because of this, he ended up foregoing the entire amount of the franchise tender that the Steelers had offered him, and he sat out the entire season. Gordon however, has had very similar circumstances, but still gave in to his holdout not even a fourth of the way through the year. One of these similarities is that both teams seemed to get by equally fine with their backup running backs (Ekeler and Conner) who thrived without their first string counterparts. This begs the question: how did the differences between the two affect the outcomes of their respective holdouts?
For starters, media coverage seemed to play a big role in how people perceived both incidents. Le’Veon Bell is known to be a very outspoken individual. He was constantly doing interviews and posting on social media to talk about his displeasure with how his holdout was going. Because of this, I believe that the media had a lot more interest in the story. Gordon, on the other hand, seemed to stay relatively quiet during his holdout and therefore had less coverage coming his way. This could very well be part of the reason why Gordon decided to come out of his holdout part way through the year unlike Bell. Without the constant media coverage, fans weren’t as eager to see the deal get done. This meant that Gordon had significantly less leverage than Bell when it came to contract negotiations.
Another reason that could be equally responsible for the difference in the holdouts is that If Gordon didn’t “play at all in 2019, his contract would… just transfer to 2020, when he would then be scheduled to earn $5.6 million once again” (Graziano, 2019, para. 5). However, Bell did not “have this problem because of the franchise-tag rules, which would have forced the Steelers to pay him nearly $21 million this year if they had wanted to franchise him for the third year in a row” (Graziano, 2019, para 6).
Whether the contracts themselves had the largest impact on the differences between how the respective holdouts ended up could definitely be debated. What is clear though is that the difference in media coverage definitely affected them in some way. I can definitely see similar circumstances affecting future holdouts as well.
Abdeldaiem, A. (2019, August 1). Melvin Gordon’s agent requests trade amid contract dispute with Chargers. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/08/01/melvin-gordon-trade-request-chargers-contract-dispute
Gordon, G. (2019, September 25). Melvin Gordon ending holdout, will report to Chargers. nfl.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001058986/article/melvin-gordon-ending-holdout-will-report-to-chargers
Graziano, D. (2019, August 8). Why you can’t compare the Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon holdouts to Le’Veon Bell’s. ESPN. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27342231/why-compare-ezekiel-elliott-melvin-gordon-holdouts-leveon-bells