Yes, I’m looking at you, Jerry Richardson, you jealous, gerrymandering Judas.
This is not simply a union and management issue. In any dispute between labour and business, the simple fact is that the business was founded as a unique entity, & continues as such as long as it continues profitably. Most of the workforce could probably be trained for the jobs and ideas created by the business founders.
In the NFL, the workforce is intensely unique. These are literally the best athletes alive, and therefore, logic would dictate that they have all the power in this chosen field.
One could argue the founders of football created the game and parameters in which these athletes perform, so they, and by proxy, the owners, should hold the most sway. The original owners took the risks to form this league, to create the teams, to forge the business.
And I’d say they created rules of the game, the colour schemes of the laundry, & then had the brilliant move to attach their laundry business to the civic pride of the city they were in. It literally wasn’t until a few years ago that it dawned on me that these teams were not part & parcel of the city—they were private businesses gloaming off the best and worst of the inherent tribal instinct.
But they used these instincts to help get their luxury coliseums built at the expense of the tribesmen, i.e. taxpayers, and now a stated interest for the owners locking out the players is, wait for it: more money for stadium creation and upkeep. Even though, by my count, maybe 6 of the 32 franchises need a new stadium. And that gets down to 4-5 once the L.A. stadium plans come to fruition.
Ironically enough, the biggest reason stated for a new stadium is to have a plethora of luxury suites, which then pays the upfront signing bonuses of the players as they become free agents. Never mind that the main owners who are driving this dispute are an 80 year old out of touch owner in Buffalo (Ralph Wilson), a losing franchise for 20 years; an owner who inherited his team from his legendary father, & has preceded to run his team into the ground for 30 years (Mike Brown in Cincinnati); an owner who just built a billion dollar stadium (Jerry Jones in Dallas), and hasn’t won anything in 20 years; and the aforementioned cheapskate/former player (who played for one whole year), Jerry Richardson in Carolina, who were the worst team in the league this year. These are not the leading lights of progress and innovative thinking. They just want to extract even more pounds of flesh from the athletes who are generating their revenue. No matter who signs the check—let’s not forget who is generating the profit here.
And the most ironic thing of all is, going to a game in a stadium is as unappealing as ever. If technology can improve everyone’s life by destroying the antiquated, then why is outlandish traffic, paying for parking, overpriced food, T.V. timeouts, and diminished sightlines of the action tolerated? More and more, all of the above seem like a quaint anomaly, and people are voting with their wallets.
These current owners have often tripled their initial investment in the team, even though none of these people created football, and none of them currently play it. And now taking half of unearned money (the current deal) will not do, and this is all under the guise of maintaining & building something (stadiums) which people generally don’t want any part of anymore. The draconian blackout rules should be abolished, with any eye towards the next T.V. contract. If it’s promised that every game will be available, people will pay a little extra for their DirecTV package on Sundays, and the T.V. networks will know that their ads will be seen every single game, thereby increasing their incentive to write a bigger check next negotiation.
Football is a perfect microcosm of brains and brawn, a substitute for our eternal need for war & violence (we are simply part of a violent Nature, after all). The longer these charlatans hold out on the primal pageantry that is football in this country, the more antipathy they’re showing their fans. The same fans they then expect to walk through the doors, after paying good money for the right to park outside the stadium on land they often ostensibly own as taxpayers. At home, they can pause the game, eat and drink what they choose at reasonable prices, and with HDTV and better network coverage than ever, they can be at the heart of the experience, instead of just breathing the same air as the players that day, sitting next to some drunken loudmouth, dreading the drive home.
So not only are the owners trying to steal more money from the players (the whole reason people care in the first place), they’re also besmirching the legacy of the owners who founded the league, who cared enough about the game to create it and fight for it. Today’s owners are simply looking for more profit from something that is a borderline public trust. Again, if you evoke a city’s name in your business, and then have the city build your main base of operations, then you cannot act as if all of the above is strictly an ATM you get to draw from, just because you bought the team once. You are not the team, your wallet is not the team, your ego is not the team. You just get the best seat. Enjoy the prestige being the king of your little Rome, and try to enjoy all the money flowing to you. Even as you secretly know, watching the grandiose game before you…that you didn’t create any of it.