Talks between NFL players and owners broke down today before a CBA agreement could be reached. At midnight, the owners will lock out the players and fans will wonder what the heck just happened.
I am far from a labor expert. I have no idea why billionaire owners and millionaire players can’t figure out how to divide up a gigantic pile of cash. I do my best to read about the issue from both sides and come to some sort of educated conclusion. In my opinion, the owners are in the wrong this time. Bill Simmons explains why much better than I could.
Amidst all sound bites, finger pointing and fan panic, there is one thing I still can’t figure out: Why are the owners locking out the players? Shouldn’t they lock out a couple of their fellow owners instead?
The core of the CBA issue is player expenses, right? Owners are saying player expenses are rising and can’t be sustained. The players say that is BS because the NFL is the most popular sport in America and basically prints money. Nobody knows for sure who is right because NFL teams refuse to open their books.
Don’t the owners share a good chunk of the blame for rising player costs? Instead of locking out the players, wouldn’t it make more sense to lock out Dan Snyder, Al Davis and Zygi Wilf for handing fat contracts to the likes of Albert Haynesworth, JaMarcus Russell and a broken-down Brett Favre? Isn’t the short-sightedness of some owners allowing player costs to get out of control? What am I missing here?
Obviously, owners can’t conspire to keep salaries at a certain level. That’s called collusion and it’s illegal. But nobody is holding a gun to owner’s heads and demanding that they overpay guys and allow salaries to reach a level that can’t be sustained.
Yes, owners have to shell out cash to players to be competitive. They also have to spend enough to meet the salary floor (except in 2010). But that still doesn’t excuse some of the outrageous bonuses paid and guarantees given to rookies and marginal veterans.
If player costs are supposedly making the entire league unsustainable despite massive public subsidies for stadiums, TV contracts worth billions and ticket prices that increase every year, maybe it’s time to step back and blame a few owners for helping drive up those player costs.
NBA owners get a lot of heat for the asinine contracts they hand out. I rarely hear an NFL owner taken to task for overpaying for marginal players and driving up costs for everyone else. Instead we pat them on the back for investing in the team instead of pocketing the cash for themselves.
Perhaps we should be grabbing them by the ear and making them sit in the corner to reflect on what they’ve done.
Yes, players costs are rising. Maybe it’s unsustainable, maybe it’s not. Either way, the owners need to shoulder their share of the blame.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .