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Millionaire players battling billionaire owners. Who cares?

The headline in recent Sports Pages says it all: “NFL now faces single, huge lawsuit from concussions”. Why am I not surprised? In a litigious society such as ours, perhaps such a claim was inevitable.

Never the less, one has trouble finding sympathy for the players; and sympathy for the owners was never in the cards anyway. What we have here, is millionaire players battling billionaire owners for the largess of an obscene amount of funds, in a sport that is worth a fraction of the (societal) price for all involved. In the end, I guess, it is appropriate to say: “a plague on both their houses”.

Dealing first with the players’ side of the dispute (more like allegations), the suit alleges that the NFL was “glorifying violence through media”. Really? How disingenuous. Indeed, in recent years, the players themselves put bounties on injuring key opponents. It is an absurd contention that the players never realized they were engaged in a violent sport? They not only knew it…they lived it! And they were not only well rewarded for living it, they were provided with significant aggrandizement and adulation along the way.

The intense goal of each of them was to reach the pinnacle they now disavow. The best athletes were pampered continuously and receive unending praise, not to mention substantial compensation. Most ended up with a free college education unavailable to even the best of our nation’s students.  And at the end of their careers, the adulation continued, with many from small towns getting high schools or athletic fields named after them, and noteriety continuing long after they retired from the sport. It is very difficult to offer pity for them.

Regarding compensation, according to a USA Today survey, the average NFL salary is about $2 million per year – as much as many the average Joe earns in a lifetime of work. With a normal career even as short as 4 years, that average player can amass a nice cache of say $10 million, plus retirement benefits. In fairness, players of earlier times earned much less, but if a player cannot plan, save and arrange at least a comfortable retirement (and often they are only in their 40’s, not 60’s like most of us), then they deserve their fate without any sympathy from the rest of us, having strived to be in a career with known hazards.

Of course, the elite players earn far more, and those player salaries are nothing short of obscene. Top quarterbacks like Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Carson Palmer each have long term contracts that max out at over $100 million, according to Forbes. Compensation of $15+ million/year is not uncommon in the league. And of course, the Minnesota Vikings a few years back paid Brett Favre $14 million to hobble around the field, then raised it to $16 million in mid season in the hope he would be hobbling less. That’s $1 million per game for an over the hill damaged athlete. Sympathy for his bad ankle? Give me a break (not a pun)!

As for the owners, they deserve no pity as well, and they know violence only enhances the interest in the sport; which enhances their pocketbooks as well. Most are already billionaires; they are in the game for notoriety as much as money. Their behavior ranges from despicable (as they hold communities hostage for bigger, newer and more exotic stadiums to enhance their already untold wealth)…to greedy and avaricious as they buy and sell teams at significant capital gains, as is the proven history of the game. Obviously, with the suit in progress, they will display serious “concern” about the players’ injuries; but, don’t count on them to tamp down much on the big hits which attract audiences – perverse as it may be.

The fact is, that the sport has not only become the playground for wealthy owners, rich players, and high salaried NFL executives (Roger Goodell earns over $10 million per year) – but it is now becoming the province of wealthy fans as well.  Again for the average Joe, he and his family are slowly being priced out of seeing any game in person, since taking a family of four to a game might easily cost $500.

At any rate, back to the trial, whatever complaints – and defenses -- emerge on either side, they are but collateral issues to the other much larger ones of money and avarice. Given that, any sympathy for either party certainly escapes me. Of course, no one really enjoys seeing another human hurt or injured, as has clearly happened. So sure, I might shed a tear for the players’ unfortunate injuries…but it would be a crocodile one!


In the pending NFL/Player lawsuit...

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Comment Preferences

  •  A lot of the guys suffering from the long (15+ / 0-)

    term effects of concussions retired from the league long before players got million dollar contracts.

    You can call it "class warfare" -- we call it "common sense"

    by kenlac on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:00:41 AM PDT

    •  The players will lose the case because of this (0+ / 0-)

      There is enough damage potential from peewee/highschool/college football to shield the NFL from liability.  I bet they'll get a doctor to take the stand and testify that head injuries earlier in life have a greater affect than later or some such.

  •  I agree with you, however (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, GoGoGoEverton

    unless things have changed significantly, the average career of a pro football player is something like .6 seasons.  At least it was when my father was a semi-pro player.

    They know what they are getting into and they do it for the money these days.  It is nasty and dangerous and has the possibility of reaping big cash rewards to the lucky few.  They are the modern gladiators.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:05:11 AM PDT

    •  To expound, the average median salary is 777k (3+ / 0-)

      as of 2011. The average career length as of 2011 was 3.5 years. That means the median player lasting the average career makes just over 2.7 million before taxes. If they started their career at 22, they're done before 26.

      While I'm not sure concussions aren't an assumable risk by the players, and about a lifetime pension for someone who worked less than 4 years, I certainly understand the players' position.

  •  This diary is a tad petty. n/t (8+ / 0-)

    Republican Family Values: Using the daughters from your first wife to convince everybody that your second wife is lying about your third wife.

    by jsfox on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:08:05 AM PDT

  •  This is about past players. BEFORE the (16+ / 0-)

    inflated salaries.  Guys with nothing.  And not even adequate health care from the league.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:08:12 AM PDT

  •  This is a bogus argument (13+ / 0-)

    millionaire players v. billionaire owners.

    First of all, with very few exceptions, the average length of a player's career is less than 3 years. Injuries, lack of speed, or not good enough talent all contribute to this, but of these, the first is clearly the most important.

    Secondly, not all players are millionaires. to the contrary, the median wage is far lower. Compared to your salary or mine, it is far higher, I agree, but you have to consider all the consequences.

    The minimum salaries for the NFL are $375K $465K, and $540K. I can almost hear you think, "$540k a year! that's huge!"  Except half of the players playing today will not be getting it because they quit or were forced out.

    Next, Most of these players have no sense of money management. Most of what they made is squandered, badly invested, or stolen (all too frequently by 'friendly investors").

    To compound their problems, because they spent all of grade school, high school, college, and their short pro careers concentrating on one and only one thing, ie football, they have no other skill sets that allow them to make a living. Imagine being 24, out of work, unemployable, and running short of the $750,000 or so that you earned two years ago. AND you suffer constant pain and suffering from permanent injuries and physical abuse. AND you can barely read.

    If you take a normal 40-45 year work life span, making $20 an hour, your salary will have totalled $1.6 million dollars. Even if you add the third year, the TOTAL earnings (with little chance of any other decent job) only totals $1.3 million, less than they would have made working a 9-5 job all their lives.

    Add the injuries and pain, and I think that your analysis is all wet.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:13:27 AM PDT

    •  yes but (0+ / 0-)

      This was a CHOICE they made -- not only willingly but eagerly

      •  There no weaker argument than . . . (4+ / 0-)

        yes, but.

        Republican Family Values: Using the daughters from your first wife to convince everybody that your second wife is lying about your third wife.

        by jsfox on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:23:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Please consider that for some of these (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sewaneepat, N in Seattle, aliasalias

        players with limited academic credentials, a career in football may have been their only ticket out of a lifetime of poverty.

        Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

        by cassandracarolina on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:23:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you also err in using "average" rather than (11+ / 0-)

        the far more accurate, "Median" wage.

        Average wages take into account the gross incomes of the bible dude who can't throw, of Eli Manning and other premier, highly overcompensated top line athletes, of whom teams have one, two, perhaps as many as three. Given their injury and practice squads, you still only talk about 2% of the entire roster of current players. The VAST majority cluster around the lowest end of the pay scale.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:27:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So... (7+ / 0-)

        because they weren't forced into this line of work, they can expect no compensation for injuries received because of unsafe working conditions? You sound like a mine owner.

        The players contend that the league knew for years of the long term dangers from repeated concussions and not only did nothing, they concealed this information from players. They have refused to require upgraded helmets. Only now, in response to litigation, have they put in place protocols that allow doctors, not coaches or players, to determine if and when a concussed player is cleared for contact.

        This is what happens when people write diaries without doing a little research first.

        Your whine about "millionaire players" was the first clue. Millionaire players are the minority. Would you prefer to see the owners keep all the loot, like they did before the NFLPA secured a fair share for the guys who do the work?

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:54:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If you follow your own logic... (7+ / 0-)

        ...then you should also be opposed to providing health care for veterans with service-related injuries either, since we've got an all-volunteer force and they chose to join up.

        The NFL should do right by its former players—and it shouldn't have taken a lawsuit to make it happen.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:24:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But would they have been willing and eager (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OIL GUY

        if they'd have known the consequences, of which the league is accused of covering up?

        Perhaps many/most of the players would have - but still, it's not as cut and dried as you make it sound.

        Moving forward, it is sickening that parents continue to push their kids down this road to oblivion. . . .

      •  What were their alternatives? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Most were exploited by our educational system to the point that very few have college degrees, despite having provided free services to their university. I'll admit that some got minimal compensation in the form of scholarship money.

        So they don't have many prospects outside of football, when the NFL comes along and offers them what seems like big money to play ball. Hell, I would have been eager if someone offered me a half mill to start.

        22 year olds think they are invincible, whether they play ball or not. The truth is they aren't. My cousins got drafted as a lineman 20 years ago. He never even made it to a game. he broke his back while practicing. That was the end of his career.

        What did he get from the Team and the League? Not much more than a hearty handshake and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

        Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

        by OIL GUY on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 11:21:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Very well stated, agnostic (6+ / 0-)

      Consider also that even if a player had studied for another career while concurrently pursuing a professional football job, that repeated concussions and brain trauma could now prevent them from pursuing that career or achieving success.

      So imagine being unemployed at 24 with early onset dementia.

      Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

      by cassandracarolina on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:21:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where to begin? (7+ / 0-)

    Okay, let's try another workplace analogy.

    Consider another career, where instead of facing the perils of the football field, the workers faced the peril of asbestos, coal dust, chlorinated solvents, or heavy metals. Back in the day, nobody worried much about that sort of thing.

    Years later, we come to understand that some of these substances are known or suspected carcinogens. The workers toil away with shortened lifespans, facing an uncertain retirement fraught with medical problems.

    They file a class action suit, or litigate as individuals, claiming that the ailments they suffer (or the losses their family suffer) were attributed to these workplace hazards.

    Years ago, concussions were considered a minor inconvenience on the football field. When the trainer runs out and asks the running back "do you know where you are?" and the running back says "I'm on the 35 yard line", they were good to go. Sit on the bench for a bit, clear the cobwebs, or maybe in extreme cases, sit out the rest of the game and come back next Sunday.

    Now we know better. We understand that concussions, especially repetitive concussions, cause lasting brain damage.

    So the players file suit.

    I know, I know, I hear you protesting "This is completely different".

    Maybe the coal miners and factory workers deserve to sue. They're just regular working people earning a few bucks. You're talking about millionaires (leaving aside that base pay in the NFL is a lot lower than that), so they deserve to suffer.

    Could you please let me know where the price point is where you flip from sympathy to scorn?

    Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

    by cassandracarolina on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:16:14 AM PDT

  •  owners make billions (4+ / 0-)

    and billions. Why would you begrudge players their share? In what universe should people not be highly compensated for sacrificing their health for entertainment? And if the owners had information not known to others regarding the incidence of brain injury (ala tobacco industry) why not sue and let a jury figure out if they are liable. Dissing lawyers and buying into the right wing fantasy that lawsuits are out of control is a very reactionary position. Mine owners, polluters, capitalists generally hate the fact that the one place little people can hit them is in court. The contingent fee agreement and trial lawyers have made cars and machinery safer, drugs safer, public and work spaces safer, farms safer and made inroads at cleaning up the environment. Why would you buy into the myth that we are a "litigious" society? If you bother to check you would find that the vast majority of civil lawsuits filed are filed by businesses against other businesses, not injury, civil rights or class action cases.

  •  My thanks to the NFL players and their suit (9+ / 0-)

    It is ONLY because of the ruckus being raised by the NFL players that more and more research is going into head injuries and the devastation they cause.  It is only because of them that there is enough information being learned to help people like my son who was injured in an auto accident.

    My thanks to them.  They are willing to fight for what they (may) deserve after "playing" (working) football.  

    If you want to know the real answer: Just ask a Mom.

    by tacklelady on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:50:14 AM PDT

    •  It will also (8+ / 0-)

      help the thousands of college and high school athletes who will never collect an NFL paycheck, but will still suffer the consequences of brain injury.

      "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

      by happy camper on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 07:58:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent point, tacklelady (5+ / 0-)

      The increased focus on concussions is now reaching down to kids of all ages and sports other than football.

      It's unfortunate that action isn't taken until the problem is so far-reaching at the professional level. If this lawsuit results in progress in recognition, avoidance, and treatment fot brain injuries, there is a great deal of upside potential for players and their families.

      What's been missing in the discussion above is that many NFL players have families, for whom they are often the sole source of support. Just like the rest of us, they need to be concerned about providing for the future. If this lawsuit helps ensure that for the players of the past while establishing better medical attention and protection for the players of the present an the future, I say "go for it".

      Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

      by cassandracarolina on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:01:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I find the $$ offensive (0+ / 0-)

    It seems to me the owners and players are both milking the fans for all they can get -- and they get a lot!  I know, it's a worldwide phenomenon, but honestly, are the pro players really worth what they are being paid?  I think it's of a piece with executive salaries.

    •  The players are paid (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, dougymi

      in accordance with the amount of cash they produce for the owners. Without a high quality product on the field, the NFL would not earn billions in TV revenue (that's where most of the cash comes from, BTW--fans in the seats on Sunday are a small portion of the income stream). Look at the Arena League, whose owners and players earn a pittance compared to the NFL.

      The NFL is one of the few examples of meritocracy for workers. Oddly enough, it's also one of the most socialist enterprises around. The teams share league revenue amongst themselves, so small market teams don't go bankrupt. The players are guaranteed a percentage of overall revenues for salaries. New teams are only allowed upon approval of the owners. An owner may not even sell their team except to an approved buyer. On team, the Green Bay Packers, is even owned by the fans.

      There is no free market competition in the NFL.

      "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

      by happy camper on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:07:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The players are definitely worth... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, a2nite

      ...what they're being paid—and more.

      That's because millions of people watch the NFL every Sunday in the fall—which means that advertisers are willing to pay TV networks billions of dollars in total to advertise on NFL broadcasts, and the TV networks in turn are willing to pay the NFL (and its franchises) billions of dollars in total to broadcast NFL games.

      Would you rather that money go to the team owners, or to the people who are actually doing the thing that the people are watching all those commercials to see?

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:28:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is a HUGE difference between a million (0+ / 0-)

    and a billion dollars.

    According to the demographics of  DK members, essentailly all of us will make $1,000,000 during our lifetimes (no, we won't be millionaires, that's not my point here).

    But OTOH, most of us will only make it 2 or 3%, at the most, toward earning $1 billion.

    Just saying, the two $ amounts are vastly different.

    •  Why, one could even say it's... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy

      ... a thousand-fold difference!

      Or, as they say over at Balloon Juice, "a McEstimate"

      You can call it "class warfare" -- we call it "common sense"

      by kenlac on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:19:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, a nice illustration of that is (0+ / 0-)

        when Ben and/or Jerry (of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) was on a talk show (maybe the Colbert Show, I'm not sure) and illustrated the relative amount this country spends on security (~$1,200 billion) and cancer research (~ $4 billion) using one oreo to represent one billion dollars.

        Yup, there was a big ole pile of oreos for security and 4 lonely looking cookies for cancer research . . . .

  •  Maybe one way to cut out the worst (0+ / 0-)

    Head injuries is to eliminate Peewee and Junior, or below High School football. How do we know that one head injury a 9 year old suffers doesn't worsen as he moves through the age ranks and explodes with the first head injury in the pros by opposing players bigger and heavier than that first oppoent ever was or would be. Find something else that those kids and tweens can do instead of football.

    I'm rather subjective about non-HS football as back in my day elementary and junior high kids had gym and all of those activities and left football to the high schoolers.

    •  Concussion do appear (0+ / 0-)

      to be cumulative, so there is a point to your idea.  The howls of scorn would be about "drying up the pipeline" of new players to the sport.

      I understand many people's contempt for Myles position, and in fact I can agree with a lot of it.  The NFL should be doing more for it's ex amployees who did not benefit from the gravy train.

      But Football is intrinsically violent, and even people who have played in High School have told me that a regular human never recovers from that first real speed hit.  So I can't buy the "we didn't know the risk" angle.  They all knew there was physical risk from the first time they played the game.

      All in all I'm finding myself less and less interested in football as the ugly truth about head injuries becomes more clear.  So in the end, I find myself saying "too bad.  should have chosen health over money".

      Of course I know it's more complicated than that, but at some point you need to pick a side, and frankly, football is not that important to me.

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