March 13, 2011

THE OTHER WISCONSIN:

Union chief's ego gets in way as he overplays players' hand: When NFL dust settles, owners still will be rich and the players will have gained … what? (David Haugh, March 12, 2011, Chicago Sun Times)

The NFL said the offer Smith walked away from included the following:

1) Maintaining a 16-game schedule through 2012; 2) implementing a rookie wage scale and funneling savings to veterans and retired players; 3) cutting the number of offseason workouts and organized team activities; and 4) contributing $82 million into a fund for retired players and offering current players lifetime health coverage.

The league also vowed to disclose limited audited profitability information and reduce the money owners should be given off the top of league revenues from $1 billion to $325 million. A lawyer for the former NFLPA responded by saying the league had "lied.''

That's always a possibility. The NFL spins better than a new toy on Christmas morning. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners deserve a measure of blame for not doing a better job of building or earning trust. But lost in Friday's inflamed rhetoric assessing the failure were two key points.

•If current players really wanted to do something profound for those before and after them, they would have focused on the league's offer of lifetime health coverage and increased retirement benefits instead of the disparity in profit. That's sacrifice in the name of something.

•Smith consistently sought to present the players as partners in the league with the owners. As much as the ability and charisma of players have put America's most popular sport at its apex, they are employees. The owners are employers.

Players and owners aren't partners on equal footing. Without the NFL, most owners still would be filthy rich. Dare I suggest you can't say the same about many of the 1,900 players.


And there are 1900 other guys just waiting to accept the riches.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2011 8:20 AM
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