Owners Cry Wolf … Weekend Keg O’Chiefs

Ahead is a mix of opinion, information and just plain getting it off my chest as the holiday weekend begins and the NFL continues to keep everything locked away.

Here’s what I say.

NATIVES ARE RESTLESS IN INDY

I spent several days in Indianapolis this last week. The town was buzzing like it always seems to be, what with the Indy 500 on the schedule for Sunday, the NFL owners meeting downtown in their annual spring get together and a host of other conventions, conferences and other business type meetings that had the restaurants full every night, and the streets crowded during the day with folks wearing badges.

But Indy is getting nervous because they are scheduled to host the Super Bowl in February. The lockout has everyone concerned but there’s a lot on the line for this city and region with the game. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said many times in the last month that the league is committed to a Super Bowl for Indianapolis. If the league’s labor situation should wipe out this season’s game, then Indy would like get the game set for after the 2014 or 2015 seasons.

This year’s Super Bowl in Dallas turned into a disaster due to bad weather and the poor reaction of local and league officials to the situation. It carried right through game day when there were hundreds of fans that were left without seats to watch the game from, despite the fact they had paid between $800 and $1,000 face value for the seats.

I can assure you that an Indy Super Bowl would not have nearly as many problems, even if the weather turned bad.

Within walking distance of the Lucas Oil Stadium are more than 7,000 hotel rooms. This city has been decades ahead of comparable cities – like Kansas City for instance – when it comes to welcoming and servicing visitors. Just a short stroll along Washington Street the other day produced one hotel after another, all lined up in a row, and all providing not only rooms, but facilities for other functions.

It starts at the corner of Washington and Illinois Street with the Conrad Hotel (243 rooms), the Embassy Suites (360 rooms), the Hyatt Regency (500 rooms), the Westin (573 rooms), the Marriott (622 rooms) and then the brand new 34-story J.W. Marriott (above left) that opened just this year with 1,005 rooms. It’s part of a one block by one block square that also holds four other Marriott Hotel properties, producing what they call Marriott Place and a total of 2,248 rooms.

All of that is within four blocks, with almost all of it interconnected by skywalks and tunnels and all of it connected to the Indianapolis Convention Center on the next street south and then Lucas Oil, which is two blocks south.

It will make for a week that everyone enjoys, no matter the weather, as long as the owners and players can get the job done. Unfortunately, that seems less and less likely.

THE LITTLE & OLD BOYS WHO CRY WOLF

The NFL owners met in Indianapolis for two days and essentially we heard the same sort of comments about how they want to negotiate, they want to get the labor situation out of court, yada, yada, yada. They cancelled the annual Rookie Symposium scheduled for June and Goodell talked about the potential for having to start chopping pre-season games.

Others cried the blues about finances etc. But I’m sorry, I just don’t get the NFL owners and the willingness of so many of them to make the little people in the organization pay for the labor dispute they and the players created with this decertification-lockout mess.

More and more teams are coming down hard on their employees by slicing their pay, giving them unpaid furloughs, taking away various perks and extras that were part of their employment packages just a year ago.

These owners cry wolf, saying they must do this type of trimming because of the economic conditions brought to bear on the business through the lockout, their lockout. All of this comes at a time when not a single game and its revenue have been lost. At this point, what really are the financial loses the owners have suffered? Where’s the money that has gone down the drain and won’t have a chance to be made in the future?

Easy answer – there is none.

I don’t understand Clark Hunt’s decision to dock the pay of the little people around his franchise because of the lockout. In the last two years, Hunt has sliced more than three dozen employees, almost all among the longest tenured people in the building. Because they had been part of the organization for 15, 20, 30, as long as 37 years in a couple of cases, their compensation was not that of an entry-level employee. Big money savings were pulled off there.

Plus, we know that over the last two seasons the Chiefs have been among the handful of teams with the lowest payrolls in the league. Yes, big money was spent on SS Eric Berry, DE Tyson Jackson and QB Matt Cassel; otherwise the vault has been snapped shut for the last three years. No doubt, some of that was done in anticipation of the lockout.

And, there’s a couple millions sitting in the budget for off-season workout bonuses for players that will not be paid out because of the lockout and shut down of the league’s football side.

Take the money saved by firing all those long-term Chiefs employees, along with the money not spent on free agents, plus the money not s pent to pay workout bonuses and Hunt should have a nice little lockout nest egg to see him through a lockout created by the owners.

Instead, he’s cutting the salaries of secretaries and other low-pay employees, and taking even larger slices from scouts and coaches who make more money and for the most part give up their lives in doing their jobs for the franchise. That’s some loyalty being shown everyone in the building.

Sadly, there are plenty of other owners that have made similar short-sighted decisions, so Clark Hunt has a lot of companions sharing that management dunce cap as they keep crying wolf.


MARTY RETURNS TO … CLEVELAND?

One pro football league that actually has something going on in the football end of the business is the United Football League, the UFL.

Part of that league is former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who is the GM and head coach of the Virginia Destroyers, playing out of the Newport News-Norfolk-Virginia Beach area of Virginia.

But next week, Marty is returning to Cleveland to hold a tryout camp as he continues to seek playing talent for his team.

And anytime he goes back to northeast Ohio it conjures up the memories of “The Drive” and “The Fumble” the two defining moments of the AFC Championship Games after the 1986 and 1987 seasons played between Schottenheimer’s Browns and the Denver Broncos. Football fans, especially those in Cleveland know how those turned out – the Browns lost both games and are parts of the Schottenheimer history of not winning a Super Bowl.

“Is there disappointment? Absolutely,” Schottenheimer told the Virginia Pilot newspaper. “Does it linger? For a period of time, yes. But it’s long passed in that regard. There’s any number of places you could look back and say if this or if that. It’s part of this game.

“It’s what happened and you have to accept that and move forward. That’s how I’ve always done it. If you dwell on that kind of stuff, you can’t move forward and have any success.”

Despite success in Cleveland, Kansas City and San Diego, Marty never got to the ultimate game. Going back to Cleveland means a dredging up of all those memories, something Marty refuses to do.

“I think we had a terrific run there,” said Schottenheimer. “I have very fond memories of my time in Cleveland. That didn’t necessarily include the championship games against Denver, however.

“I don’t know that’s the perspective the majority of football fans have about my coaching career. But certainly those were two tremendous games – that obviously were big disappointments because we failed to prevail.”

MARTY’S STAFF COMES TOGETHER IN UFL

Last week, the Destroyers announced Schottenheimer’s coaching staff for the coming UFL season. It includes some familiar names.

The defensive coordinator is Kurt Schottenheimer, long-time Chiefs assistant coach. The offensive coordinator is Terry Shea, who served as QB coach for Dick Vermeil in his time in Kansas City. The special teams coordinator is Mike Stock, who held the same job for the Chiefs for six seasons.

Other members of the staff are O-Line coach Bill Laveroni, RBs coach Gerald Carr, TEs coach Chet Fuhrman, D-Line coach John Marshall, LB coach Johnny Holland and DB coach Lionel Washington. There remain several spots on the staff to fill.


18 Responses to “Owners Cry Wolf … Weekend Keg O’Chiefs”

  • May 28, 2011  - RW says:

    On the one hand the owners are posturing with all these staff/salary cuts in their attempt to send a message to the players that they’re hunkered down, making moves to ride the long wave of the lockout and more than ready to fall on their collective swords rather than compromise on some kind of intelligent agreement. On the other hand, those owners doing so are simply cheap bastards.

    Perhaps they’re all that and less? On a side note, I think players’ minimum pay ought to be higher and the highest paid lower. I also think a portion (5%) of the revenue pie should be set aside for injured and retired players.

    But in order for any of these issues to be determined, negotiation and respectful bargaining sessions need to happen. All we have now is worse than where this entire matter started what with the finger pointing, vetriolic comments and both sides’ lawyers rubbing their hands together in glee as their hourly fee clocks keep rolling.

    Goodell has been exposed as a joke and a puppet for the owners. The owners look all the world to be part of a well pre-planned act of collusion designed to break the player’s union once and for all. The players have reached a point of no return so here we are at a place I didn’t think we’d reach which is a growing liklihood of not having a NFL season in 2011.


  • May 28, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    When it comes to judging the way businesses or families are run, I think of the Sword of Damocles.

    I don’t know enough to comment on the owners, but I imagine the wealthiest players have also cut back on their spending and a different set of people have been hurt by their miserly ways: Car dealers, Realtors,restaurants, resorts, clothing stores…they have suffered the consequences, too, despite some players having millions in investments.

    I will say that I would be more sympathetic to the players if they, like the owners, split their share of the revenues as evenly as the teams. With exceptions, the NFL teams receive roughly the same amount of income. I wonder if the players would agree to divide up their share so that individual players received close to the same amount in salary? I say that because the owners of the most successful franchises have the same animal spirits striving to earn top dollar as do the best players. The players at the top experience a huge disparity in what they earn from their teammates of lesser talents and skills. The people I sympathize with are the lower paid NFL players. I don’t really care about Drew Brees and his demands. It would be like me feeling sorry for the New York Yankees ownership. I don’t.

    When owners are told what percentage they can keep by the wealthiest players who make 20 times more than what the lowest paid player receives, it makes me think. I don’t know the owners’ financial situation— I assume they would like to have the financial security of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. I don’t think they do. I think they have to manage their businesses for the long term, while the top paid players on each team could retire tomorrow and live like Kings until they die.

    Do I begrudge top players for earning that right? No. Nor do I begrudge the owners for wanting that same long term security.

    Again, I don’t have enough facts to render an informed opinion as to right or wrong, but I do think that each side should realize the real world issues the other experiences. Frankly, I’d like to see a deal negotiated by a group of the lowest paid players and the least financially solid teams. It would probably look a lot different from Robert Kraft and Clark Hunt cutting a deal with Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.

    That being said, it sucks that anyone who has served their business faithfully and competently is let go. Letting good people go is not typically evidence of good judgment nor is it a marker for long term success. Most successful business find ways to keep good people or bring them back when a financial crisis has passed. I agree with you Bob, Clark Hunt can afford to keep good people and he should. Even if it hurts him financially for a period of time. That’s how real families operate. We hear the Chiefs talk about being a “family.” No, they are not. At least, not a family of which I would be a proud member.


  • May 28, 2011  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    As we all wait for this masochistic tango to play out between the millionaires and billionaires the entire debacle makes my stomach churn more and more. Many players do make tremendous money but they also do risk and pay a huge price with their health and lives. Pay attention to what’s happening with so many former players if you don’t see or believe that. The owners do put up the money to run the franchises but how many of them have only their professional football team to rely on for their livelihoods? Also, have you looked at the profit margins for professional football teams. When was the last time you heard of one going under or even not making a profit? I also think that our comparisons don’t really hold up because the NFL is a unique form of monopolized capitalism that I’m not sure has a comparable labor management comparison. I also think we waste our energies siding with either group. The players hope we’ll take their part so they get what they want and the owners hope they can sway us to force the players to give in to their demands. I don’t think either group has a credible argument. The bottom line is that the league made record profits this past season during one of the worst economic times in history. Yet they are willing to stop the game to fight over more of the profits and undoubtedly will pass the cost on to us, the fans when all is said and done. Bob’s point is a good one. It illustrates the lack of concern for those loyal employees that worked their entire careers to make the teams and league what it is. The present situation is being used as an excuse to increase the owners’ profits at the expense of loyal lower level workers within their own organizations. it’s no different from what’s happening in my own, and undoubtedly many others’, workplace but the difference is the NFL franchises are making record profits. Do you think that the owners or players give a damn about the fans despite what they say? They only care about our continuing to pay them the money we do. I hope they get their differences settled because I LOVE the game and my team. But it is only entertainment and I receive no benefit other than my own self induced joy from the product. I may be alone but I’ve gone on record saying I’ll walk away from my love for and support of the game if the greedy bastards that control it ruin it for those of us who ultimately pay for it.


  • May 28, 2011  - txchief says:

    Bob, your perspective in this article reveals the that you have probably never run any type of business or have had to be personally accountable for the costs of a significant business organization. It would be suicidal for a company to pay its’ employees at full rate when there is no business being done and no revenue being generated. Do auto makers keep their factories open when there are no orders for new cars? The NFL is not a government welfare program.

    The fact that the owners are pretty much keeping everyone on at a reduced rate when there is no forseeable football to be played is actually quite generous. Remember, the owners exercised a fair, previously agreed option to opt out of a contract that was unsustainable. It was the players that walked out of the negotiations without any counter offer and decided to mire us in this neverending legal abyss.


  • May 29, 2011  - Mark says:

    Please provide some PROOF that the prior contract was “unsustainable”. I see so many taking the owners side SAYING this, and the Owners SAY this, but since they refuse to provide the needed financial PROOF that the players side needs to see, it’s just empty words by Greedy Billionaires who are demonstrating their greed even more every day this unnecessary lockout goes on.


  • May 29, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Billionaires who make millionaires may be many things, but “greedy” is not one of them.

    To properly judge, it is important to have created and operated a multi-million dollar business (or larger). On the other side of that is until we have lived with physical disabilities or lived with the reality of a shorter life span, it would affect our perspective, too.

    They will work it out when the money starts to run out.

    I will say this, I will never call Bob “greedy” after taking on his ten millionth subscriber and writes for the web site from his mansion on the beach in the Bahamas. I will congratulate him and try to figure out how I can do that, too.


  • May 29, 2011  - Pat says:

    Asking me to feel sorry and sympathetic to the owners as they cut the pay of rank and file employees is not going to doing anyone much good. No, I have never run a multimillion dollar organization. And I would be terrible at it because I try to be a decent human being. If keeping my employees able to survive through a dry period means that I have to make $15 million dollars in a year instead of $10 million dollars in a year, then that’s not that big a deal. When I’m being asked to sacrifice some ridiculous luxury and my employees would be asked to sacrifice basic luxuries, it would be a pretty clear choice for me.

    And that is the way people are SUPPOSED to act (remember that Jesus guy that everyone seems so fond of–how do you think he’d feel about the owners cutting the pay of his low-paid employees just so he could “prepare” for a worst that hasn’t come yet). So side with the owners if you want, but please don’t pretend to me or yourselves that it’s the right thing to do.


  • May 29, 2011  - Pat says:

    Oops, reversed that. Meant $10 million instead of $15 million. Just another reason I’d be terrible at raping my employees, I can’t even create a coherent thought.


  • May 30, 2011  - Big Al says:

    If I don’t misunderstand you too much, Tenand6 you want to compare the top earning players with the lower earning owners, and have sympathy for those owners facing poverty if they can’t arrange a profitable deal with the player’s union. I’m not sure if the NFL has any such owners and if they do, maybe its time they give up on this particular dream. As business people they’re squandering earning opportunities in ways other than paying football players too much money. They could sell those teams for far more than would make for a very comfortable retirement. On the other hand, in their mid-30s Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are about at the end of their peak earning years and neither one is a billionaire. They have a good stake to go into other businesses after this football thing is done but they made their money throwing touchdown passes not managing investments. Dan Snyder, for example, made far more money by a similar age and in his 40s still has the capacity to make even more. The NFL owner’s box is a club for very rich men. You’re worried about owners losing their livelihoods. Even an owner who couldn’t afford to keep subsidizing an NFL team would, at worst, have to give up the private jet and start flying first class commercial. If one of these guys blows his fortune, there is always an opportunity for them to make more. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s the reality of the situation. To TxChief–I think Bob was saying the Chiefs look cheap cutting wages, benefits and jobs now before they really suffered any losses. The NFL doesn’t generate any revenue in May in any year. As of today we don’t know that there won’t be a full NFL season, plus all four preseason games. It might look better for teams to time cutbacks to when they’re facing actual losses such as if the lockout drags on into August. My personal feeling is that everyone would be better off if the owners and players would agree to something like the status quo but with more contributed to retired players facing health issues and some kind of reasonable rookie salary schedule. Please also keep the 16 game schedule. The NFL is not the NHL. They have a lot more to lose.


  • May 30, 2011  - Nathan says:

    Why is everyone so wrapped up in feelings and who to be sympathetic to? The public school system has reduced everyone to quivering masses of emotional goo. What a pile of crap.
    The bottom line is that if the players union gets what they want, our beloved KC Chiefs will turn into the KC Royals…a minor league team that churns out players for the teams in New York and California. Screw that.


  • May 30, 2011  - txchief says:

    A business that spends unwisely is a failed business, and no one winds up with a job. For all of those no-experience-union-employee-business-geniuses, the bills keep coming for the teams with no prospect for any team income. I doubt there are herds of perspective buyers lining up to purchase any team in the current business environment! IDIOTS!


  • May 30, 2011  - txchief says:

    …that’s prospective buyers!


  • May 31, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    When the players’ union asked to see the owners’ books, were they prepared to share the players’ checkbooks so the owners could see where their money goes?

    If owners are so cruel and greedy, why don’t the players start their own league? Pool their money and make an investment.

    Hating owners is no better than hating players. They both are needed and have interests to protect.


  • June 1, 2011  - From The Labor Front … Morning Cup O’Chiefs | Chiefs Football at BobGretz.com says:

    [...] I had my say last week about the ridiculous situation of Chiefs ownership slashing the salaries of front office employees, even though the lockout has nothing to do with them. Here’s the link. [...]


  • June 4, 2011  - tfjtfj says:

    so was the vault snapped shut when kc signed dj and jamaal to 5 year deals?


  • June 6, 2011  - Breaking News: Clark Hunt Is Awful « Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] here, here, or here if you’re not up to date on the latest evidence that our owner is deserving of scorn.  [...]




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