The Golden Goose May Die … Friday Cup O’ Super Bowl

From Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

It was an interesting Thursday afternoon here in Super Bowl Land. The National Football League Players Association held its annual press conference.

I decided to attend the affair with a friend. I’ll call him The Capitalist.

After some 45 minutes of listening to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith’s saber rattling, talk of an owner lockout in 2011, a season ahead without a salary cap and the plight of retired players, The Capitalist left the room with his blood pressure jacked up and incredulity dripping from every pour.

“These guys are nuts,” The Capitalist said. “They get 60 percent of the NFL revenue and they think that’s their right? Where is their risk? The owners assume all the risk.”

I reminded The Capitalist that the football players more than any other team sport, risk their bodies in playing the game.

“It’s not like they aren’t getting paid,” The Capitalist nearly shouted. “How many 23 or 24-year olds are making two or three million dollars a year? They get paid quite well for their risk.”

Yes they do, and owners make a lot of money themselves. The golden goose landed on pro football some 20 years ago and continues to punch out eggs filled with riches. The owners have seen the value of their franchises rise remarkably in the last 20 years. The players union says those values are up 500 percent. The players are getting 60 percent of the league’s gross revenues. This coming season, the minimum salary for rookies is $320,000. A three-year veteran has a minimum of $545,000.

Everybody has gotten rich and the fans have gotten poorer.

The Capitalist started his company over a decade ago. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, things did not start well, but he worked hard, sacrificed and made many more good decisions than bad. Today he has a company that grows its revenue by 20 to 30 percent a year, even in these bad economic times. If he liquidated it all tomorrow, he would never have to work another day of his life.

So I asked The Capitalist what he would do if his employees suddenly banded together walked into his office and demanded pay and benefits equal to 60 percent of the company’s annual revenues. He thought about that one for a second.

“If they were together and strong, I would probably have to make the deal,” The Capitalist said. “Then, I’d mark up my product and services. I’d pass the increased costs along to my customers.”

Which is exactly what’s going to happen to NFL fans when all this finally gets sorted out through collective bargaining or the courts? The players’ percentage of the revenue may go down. The owners may have to accept decreased monies. The only group that’s guaranteed to see an increase, and in this case an increase in cost, is the fan.

Smith railed against the league owners for presenting an initial CBA proposal that included the players taking an 18 percent cut in the revenue directed to them. Smith kept spitting out the 18 percent number, saying it was too insulting to even make a counter offer to the owners. A collection of current and former players sat behind him, including the seldom seen or heard from Barry Sanders (left).

“I almost jumped up and asked if the players association would support an 18 percent reduction in ticket prices,” said The Capitalist.

Smith worked Thursday’s press conference like a motivational speaker, wearing a wireless microphone, pacing on the stage in front of a dozen current and former players who were there as a show of solidarity. Smith kept saying “I dig it.” He dug the history of the game. He dug the idea of players coming together to create a team. He said he dug capitalism, although The Capitalist had some doubts about the veracity of that statement.

The first question to Smith came from a member of the media his membership, Bengals WR Chad Ochocino who appeared as a television reporter. Ocho wanted to know how series the executive director viewed the possibility of an owners’ lockout in 2011. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 14,” said Smith.

The union believes all signs point to the league locking the doors after the 2010 season and not opening until the players accept whatever demands are put on the table. There’s ownership’s initial offer featuring the 18 percent reduction in the players’ share. The league has a new deal with the TV networks that will continue payments to the league even if there are no games to broadcast. And there is the restructuring of contracts for assistant coaches to reflect no pay if no games are played.

Would the owners be silly enough to take football off the field in a year? Have the players become rich fat cats on their own, trying to gain a lifetime fortune in five or six years in the league? Based on the comments and action of both sides in this battle, it appears they are silly and fat cats enough.

But that is the nature of negotiating these types of agreements. There will be plenty more saber rattling and posturing in the coming months and the next year.

“Unbelievable!” said The Capitalist. “How do these guys getting anything done?”

Why is this important? If you are a football fan – and I assume you’ve found this site because you enjoy the game – then these are important times. No matter what eventually happens in this negotiation, there will be a hand in your pocket.

SIGNINGS, FIRINGS, MOVEMENT & OTHER NEWS AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • BILLS – hired George Edwards as defensive coordinator. He was coaching at the University of Florida.
  • EAGLES – hired former Cleveland GM Phil Savage as a draft consultant.
  • JAGUARS – announced the hiring of Earnest Byner as running backs coach, Joe Cullen as defensive line coach, Rob Boras as tight ends coach, Ben Albert as assistant defensive line coach and offensive assistants Ron Heller and Matt Griffin.
  • JETS – hired Mark Carrier as defensive line coach; signed long snapper Tanner Purdum

FROM THE PAGES OF SUPER BOWL HISTORY

On February 5, 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit. The game would end up being one of the most controversial in Super Bowl history because of the officiating, as a number of calls on the field all went against the Seahawks.

Playing a drivable distance away from Pittsburgh, Steelers fans turned the atmosphere into a home game for their black and gold. That disadvantage did not slow down the Seahawks, who jumped to a 3-0 lead on a 47-yard FG by Josh Brown.

Pittsburgh came back and got the game’s first touchdown, as QB Ben Roethlisberger scored on a disputed one-yard run. The Seahawks felt the ball never crossed the goal line. They added the next score in the third quarter when RB Willie Parker scampered 75 yards for a touchdown. Seattle pulled closer on a 16-yard TD pass from QB Matt Hasselbeck to TE Jerramy Stevens.

But the Steelers wrapped things up in the fourth quarter, when WR Antwaan Randle El on a fake end-around threw the ball to WR Hines Ward for a 43-yard TD. The PAT kick set the final score. Ward won the game’s MVP trophy, with his five catches for 123 yards and one TD. Parker finished with 93 yards on 10 carries. Jerome Bettis had 14 carries for 43 yards in what was the last game of his career.

In pre-game activity, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and the Four Tops all appeared and performed on the field. Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin and Dr. John sang the national anthem. The half-time entertainment was provided by the Rolling Stones. ABC had the telecast with Al Michaels and John Madden doing the commentary. The cost of a 30-second commercial in the game broadcast was $2.5 million. Ultimately, it was estimated that 90.7 million people watched the game.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on February 5, 1938 in Big Spring, Texas was RB-K Jack Spikes. He was part of the very first Dallas Texans team in that inaugural 1960 season for the American Football League. Spikes would go on to play eight seasons in the AFL, the first five with the Texas/Chiefs (1960-64). Signed out of TCU by the Texans after the ’59 college season, Spikes played in 51 games for the franchise. He ran the ball 329 times for 1,392 yards and 12 touchdowns. He caught 45 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns. Spikes also was 19 of 57 on his FG attempts over his career and made 69 of his 76 PAT kicks. He finished up his playing career with a season in Houston and two years in Buffalo.


25 Responses to “The Golden Goose May Die … Friday Cup O’ Super Bowl”

  • February 5, 2010  - Big Al says:

    Bob, I don’t think your friend The Capitalist really understands the world of sports. While his star employee may get a one time notice in the business section of the local paper, he or she is nowhere near as famous as Terrance Copper or Wallace Gilberry. The players are the key asset of any professional sport, including the NFL. As we saw with the replacement players in the ’80s, NFL level athletes are not replaceable all at once. Big salaries are part of the allure of sports. They’re part of the dream: if only my forty time or jump shot or curve ball had been a little bit better (right) I could have been one of those sports millionaires. The “outrage” of cutting NFL players back to 1992 salary levels is that the NFL steps back from bigger, better, faster and higher paid performers to a more minor (as in league) status. If the league wants to negotiate this kind of new deal they should wait until they’re actually losing money, until more and more stadiums are empty, until they have to do it to survive (NBA anyone?). Otherwise pay the players and lets get on with the show.


  • February 5, 2010  - Scott D says:

    Here is what my plan is should there be a lock out. College football on Saturday, and spending time with my wife and son on Sunday. Let’s face it bros – we’ve created a monster that has to continually get fatter, so it can feed upon itself and get fatter, so it can feed upon itself and get fatter…. ad nauseum. Both the players and the owners are caught up in a vicious cycle of “needing more” that none of us “normal people” can relate to. What will we do if there is no Pro football??? As much as I have, and do enjoy the game… I’ll live.


  • February 5, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    Weighing in on this ongoing topic, I simply advance two notions:

    1) The players, as a group, are not known for their money management skills and will eventually cave to the owner’s will. In other words, past collective bargaining history shows a clear propensity in this direction because the players (Not all of them, but most of them), will need the fat paychecks due to their enhanced lifestyles.

    2) The owners KNOW this about the players and will, I believe, wait them out, wait for them to feel the financial pain and see the light. I see a prolonged lockout by the owners in 2011, to continue until the players and their union limp back to the bargaining table, hat in hand.

    Meantime, we sail into the unchartered waters of an upcapped year and, I believe, run the risk of seeing the MLB model take hold in the NFL where the rich teams are the ones dominating the league. I’ve heard many say that once the NFL goes uncapped, they won’t go back to the current system which is an issue yet to be realized, or then, resolved. But, it’s coming.


  • February 5, 2010  - JW says:

    BigAl, you’re missing the point. This isn’t the sports end of it…it is the business end of it. And businesses pass their labor cost on.

    The players union is complaining teams won’t disclose thier profits. And that the value of the franchise has grown 5x in the last 20 years. But the union does know (and can see) the ticket prices. And ironically, those ticket prices have grown 4-6x during that same period. While its harder to quantify, players salaries have grown 10x throughout that period.

    It doesn’t matter what the assest is, or how much it costs. Businesses take thier cost of goods, mark them up, and sell them to make profit. It is not a partnership with the players! And the greed of a player trying to get an entire life’s earnings in 4.7 years IS unreasonable, when it comes at the cost of fans throught $220 ticket prices and $38 parking.


  • February 5, 2010  - Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 2/5 says:

    [...] The Golden Goose May Die … Friday Cup O’ Super Bowl from Bob Gretz [...]


  • February 5, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    If they lockout I dont think I will pay attention to football as I did. It’s the same thing with the MLB in 94 locking out, I didn’t start watching baseball again until 2004-05… It’s greed that has taken over.. Well there is always hockey!!


  • February 5, 2010  - Justin D says:

    JW, nice rebuttal. I am with you all the way


  • February 5, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    how about the owners take a less profit margin, players take a less %, the owner then lowers parking,consessions, and ticket prices for us FANS??

    then more fans for the “average” teams in the league would buy tickets, more parking and drinks, and that would increase the revenue from the year before…..and everybody wins!! yeah right


  • February 5, 2010  - jimbo says:

    The smell of greed is nausiating. The Govt. has been doing it for years & is currently in overdrive. The owners & players have enjoyed the fruits of the NFL tree for many years. I’m ok with that. We can all agree, the NFL is big, big, business. It’s popularity is still on the rise… Unless there is a lockout.
    I’m a little uneasy with a 140% chance of a 2011 lockout. We as fans & taxpayers do not deserve this. We should be the ones getting rewarded for all our hard earned money paying for new NFL stadiums, puchasing inflated NFL merchandise, parking & tickets. etc. etc. etc.
    Granted our reward is a home town team we love to watch & be entertained by for 20 or so weeks of the year. Yes, we love money too & yes we would like to have more of it. But, unfortunately for us, we are victims of the Govt we elect & the Teams that we love. When they spend more money or make more money we all know where it comes from… Don’t we.
    Go Chiefs.


  • February 5, 2010  - Jody says:

    The owners have “no risk”, the NFL is a license to print money and the players “60 percent” is a mirage. First the owners get 4 billion off the top BEFORE counting starts and then the contracts are not guaranteed. What is on the books will not be played, they will make you take a pay cut or cut you. All this said the REAL issue is like in baseball small market vs large market teams, not players vs owners.


  • February 5, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Greed is definitely one of the The Seven Deadly Sins. I hope they can work something out…but, it doesn’t look good. So who loses? We all do.

    Nice idea, gorillafan. I wish. Dropping a coupla’ hundred bucks each on Chiefs games (just to take my son) gets harder as time goes on. Taking my wife and daughters along (who would also love to go) simply isn’t an option.

    Funny how that old saying “Never bite that hand that feeds you” never seems to apply to those it really SHOULD apply to.


  • February 5, 2010  - SG says:

    “EAGLES – hired former Cleveland GM Phil Savage as a draft consultant.”

    Congrats to Phil Savage – one of the good guys.


  • February 5, 2010  - TimR says:

    A missing link here is that the value of those franchises will drop if there is a lockout & a long fan vacation from the game even when the game comes back.

    The smart thing to do in tough economic times is to keep EVERYBODY in the game: fans, players, etc. They could do this by decreasing the percentage they all get & restructuring the pay for players by having a rookie wage scale & contract, limit owner profits with excesses going to a “pool” to be shared. This way, owners would be guaranteed a return on their capital, veteran players would rightfully be paid generally higher than rookies and you could stabilize fan cost somewhat thereby keeping stadiums full. The owners would have to determine what costs go into determining their cost structure for purposes of getting ROI. The differences could be equalized with the “pool” before distribution between players & owners.


  • February 5, 2010  - JW says:

    Again, from a business standpoint; the 21 million dollars a year (reported revenue of the only publicly held team; packers) is not a good return on a 1 Billion dollar investment. And owners do not take 4 billion off the top. According to the union is is 1 billion. According to the commish, the increase of value to the league of 3.4 billion since 2006 CBA, 2.6 has gone to players.

    And indeed the franchise values will drop from a lockout. Although the players will not share in this reduction. In fact, some of them will be paid millions, whether games are played or not.

    The unions disgust at the owners having a guarantee clause in the new TV contract seems very hypocritical…given they invented guaranteed contracts.


  • February 5, 2010  - PnS says:

    As a card carring union retired I’am on the owners side on this issue . Owners have all the risk if they lose money I don’t see the players playing for less.The players don’t have loyality if they want more money the sit out or move on.Most players can’t stay out of jail or know right from wrong. The have to have owners falling behind them cleaning up their mess. Some even bring their guns to there game just in case they may need to Bang there teammate.Thugs are nothing new to these players it’s just they make over a mil a year.


  • February 5, 2010  - TX_ChiefsFAN says:

    I agree JW, ThunderChief, Big AL and others completely…

    And I would like to add. These owners are business men. They make business decisions daily and have hundreds upon thousands of people to pay. For the most part they deserve the profit they get.
    The players on the other hand (not meaning to downplay their role) are just outstanding athletes. As JW stated “the greed of a player trying to get an entire life’s earnings in 4.7 years IS unreasonable”. If I may, they are getting MUCH MORE than an entire life’s earnings in record time!!! Also as ThunderChief said “The players, as a group, are not known for their money management skills”. Precisely ThunderChief, they ARE NOT business men and they ARE getting paid enormously, if they only would invest for their future and their retirement they would not want for anything ever. But instead they wish to live the lucrative lifestyle of a billionaire for years to come. That to me IS greed as stated by many of you and unfortunately sucks for the common man like you and I.
    I’m with you Big Al… “If only my forty time or jump shot or curve ball had been a little bit better (right) I could have been one of those sports millionaires”.


  • February 5, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    Think of all the coaches, personel, scouts, managers, assistants, CEO to a custodian, just the work force that has to be paid to run and NFL team, my God, TONS!! And players think they need it ALL


  • February 5, 2010  - el cid says:

    It is all about the money.


  • February 5, 2010  - JohnFromFairfax says:

    Thanks again Bob for presenting the viewpoints of both sides in a way that spells it out for all. I may be in the minority but I don’t see the owners being taken advantage of by the players or vice versa. We have only the figures and information regarding the state of the franchises provided by one party, that being the owners. The players are handsomely compensated and all the things pointed out by others are true. I don’t think the risk of crippling, career and life threatening injuries the players risk on a weekly basis can be overlooked. The fact is they’re both making lots of money and reaching for more and more. I don’t side with either group or feel sorry for one or the other. I agree that it has been the golden goose and unfortunately think they are getting ready not to let it die but to kill it. I was a baseball fan and when they destroyed the game as it existed before the nineties I vowed to not spend a dime to give back to them again and haven’t. I love football and have been a fan my whole life but if they do the same thing I don’t think I’ll ever view it the same way again. I’m one fan but I hope a lot of others feel the same way and the owners and players are paying attention and really considering what they are about to do. It’s entertainment and if they don’t see that and understand the implications of destroying competitive balance, fan loyalty, etc. then they deserve what they get if and when they kill the goose.


  • February 5, 2010  - CK- 31yrs STH says:

    Johnfromfairfax- good post!
    My fear is that Lamar Hunt kept the NFL the in the right direction like he did the Chiefs. Since his passing look at what has happened to our Chiefs. I’m afraid it will now happen to the NFL.


  • February 6, 2010  - SG says:

    “I was a baseball fan and when they destroyed the game as it existed before the nineties I vowed to not spend a dime to give back to them again and haven’t.”

    JohnfromFairfax – you’re right on the money sir. Whoever has contact and pull with the owners and with the NFLPA – please take note of another fan out of 20 posts (me) who is saying the very same thing…who has personally traveled more than an hour to attend more than one NFL game – and responded very similarly to baseball. I will follow college baseball and some minor league baseball. I watch College World Series, I watch NBA Playoffs, I watch college football bowl games, I even watch some hockey. However, when the World Series comes around – guess what – I don’t watch it.


  • February 6, 2010  - RatsoReily says:

    Poor owners .. doing so bad that Jerry Jones can build a billion dollard stadium .. how does he manage? The Packer’s cleared 30 million (the numbers are public since the team is a publicly held franchise). Now think about it .. they are in a small market, lack national media coverage but still manage to net 30 mil. If the owners are doing so bad why aren’t they selling their teams? I think the real issue is a lack of will, on the part of owners, in regards to player salaries. They are the one’s who set salaries, if they think someone is paid too much then why do they offer them the money? I have zero sympathy for the owners because they’ve been their own worse enemies. The one thing that is sad about this is that the fans are the one’s who will ultimately pay for this mess.


  • February 8, 2010  - joj0 says:

    The market is the market. No one gets paid to much they just get paid. Extortion is illegel. Negotiating is not. Whats next…you are to tall….you are to fat…who decides??


  • February 9, 2010  - Tim says:

    This will never happen but pay each player a league set minimum. Any amount over that will be based on performance bonuses. In other words, a “x” number of dollars for each touchdown scored, “x” number of dollars for an interception, ect.

    I know this is a very, very simplistic approach and it would have to be refined/retooled for the players that don’t traditionally touch the ball such as offensive linemen but I see positives in this approach.

    Players will truly pratice harder and more efficiently. It would give incentive to players that teams are not playoff bound or players to teams that have wrapped up a playoff spot to continue to keep playing just as hard as they ever did.




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