The Very Rich Hours of the Lambrights

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The NFL Labor Debacle: Who is to Blame?

May 14th, 2011 · No Comments

I’ve been following the NFL labor situation since the beginning and have read a lot of news articles, blog posts, tweets, and comments on who is to blame for this mess.  Like everyone else, I have an opinion.  This is not going to be long post full of analysis and links to websites with evidence to bolster my opinion.  I’m just going to say what I think, which is that the blame falls on the owners:

  • It was the owners who decided to end the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) early
  • It is the owners who are demanding a larger share of the league’s revenues while refusing to provide real evidence that the current arrangement is driving them into bankruptcy.  We’re all supposed to take their word on it which is hard when league revenues keep going up up up.
  • It was the owners who negotiated contracts with the major networks that brought in less revenue than they could have in exchange for a clause specifying that they would get paid even if no games were played.  Those same revenues are shared with the players and the owners were legally obligated to negotiate the best deal possible.  Not only did they not do that, they used the opportunity to buy themselves some “lockout insurance”.  A federal judge ruled the contracts unacceptable and blocked them.
  • The players haven’t asked for any changes to the old CBA.  It’s possible that should be seen as evidence that it was unbalanced in the players’ favor.  But until the league agrees to open its financial books, we really don’t know.

I’ve heard a lot of fans lay the blame on both sides equally, pointing out that this is fight of millionaires against billionaires.  I don’t buy that:

  • There are thousands of players in the NFL; most are not actually millionaires
  • The average NFL playing career lasts about 4 years.  Most of us have 30+ years to make our career pay off.
  • NFL players find it nearly impossible to get health insurance other than through the NFL.  Their bodies just take too much punishment.  The owners are counting on that as one of their trump cards during the lockout; the players have lost their insurance.
  • It is true that not all owners are billionaires but about 50% of them are.  The percentage of millionaires among NFL players is much lower than 50%.

One final thought.  Who makes the NFL possible?  The answer, of course, is that it takes both players and owners.  But who is more replaceable?  31 (the Packers are publicly owned) owners, many of whom don’t actually have strong roots in the game?  Or thousands of players who have the skill to play the game at the professional level?  I think it would be a lot easier to find 31 new businessmen to run the teams than thousands of professional-caliber players.

It’s just my opinion but I’m blaming the owners.

Tags: KC Chiefs

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