Crusading Players Can Stay Away from NFL

If your boss really, really treats you poorly, and you feel like he hasn’t delivered on promises made or has fostered an unhealthy or untenable work environment, you have a couple of options. You can quit your job and find a new one, or you can file a lawsuit. Either way, it’s because you don’t trust or like your boss, and when you do it under normal circumstances, it’s going to cause a divorce between you and your employer.

That’s what has happened in the NFL. That’s where NFL players find themselves now as they’ve been locked out by owners. And as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees lead the lawsuit against the league, they and their representatives told us they don’t like or trust the people they work for. Think about it. If you like your employer, are you more likely to try to negotiate your way through problems, or to file a lawsuit? So it’s clear that the players don’t like the NFL. Trust? NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said, “Any business where two parties don’t trust each other is a business that can never be as successful as it can be.”

He says that despite the fact that John Mara, one of the most honorable men in the NFL, said, “I’ve been here (at negotiations) for the better part of two weeks now, and essentially during that two-week period the union’s position on the core economic issues has not changed one iota. Their position has quite literally been ‘take it or leave it’ and in effect they have been at the same position since last September. … One thing that became painfully apparent to me during this period was that their objective was to go the litigation route. I believe they think it gives them the best leverage. I never really got the feeling in the past weeks that they were serious about negotiating.”

The players want to see the owners’ books. They want to know, to the penny, how much the league makes. The owners say costs are going up. They’re paying for their own stadiums, and want to build more. Pretty much everyone in America has watched as travel, utility, insurance and tax rates have spiraled. Yet the NFLPA somehow believes the NFL is immune to economic factors that affect every other American and U.S. industry.

Even if they see the books and get what they want, who does the union think is going to pay the freight for those rising costs? Are owners going to take more of a hit, or are they going to pass it along to their customers? I think we know what happens in business. Rising costs for an industry lead to rising prices for consumers.

And that’s what the union is asking for. They want to maintain their $2.5 million average salaries at any cost, even if that cost is passed along to the fan that makes an average of $43,000 annually. The sense of entitlement that begins with stars in high school and works its way through scandalous college careers never ends, even with an average salary that’s 58 times what the average guy makes.

Brady, Brees and Manning, along with Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, if they are men of conviction, should never play in the league again, right? They should walk away. Would you go back to work for someone you don’t trust? If you’re going to be so mistreated, why would you want to return for more? Drew Brees tweeted on Friday that “We (the NFLPA) have a responsibility and at some point you just have to stand up for what is right.”

Brees is just concluding a six-year, $60 million contract that paid him $7.3 million last season. He’s in line, regardless of what the new labor deal calls for, for a huge new deal. And he needs to stand up for what’s right? Peyton Manning just finished a seven-year, $99.2 million deal. He made $11 million last year. Brady just signed a four-year, $72 million deal.

From my vantage point, the distrust and mistreatment that forced these players to “stand up for what is right” must have been pretty powerful. I never heard about this mistreatment before, but now is the time for these players.

At least, because of the educations they received at Purdue (Brees), Tennessee (Manning) and Michigan (Brady), there’s a fallback. They can go work those other $10 million-a-year jobs that are out there (although our national unemployment rate is 9.3%, so it might be tough right away).

Unfortunately, these “heroes” are greedy frauds. They have outstanding athletic ability. But unlike Stan Kroenke in real estate, Tom Benson in auto dealerships, Jerry Jones in oil or the York family in mall development, the only way they’re going to make that kind of money is by playing for guys who actually developed a plan and put their own money on the line to get rich.

To those who have filed the suit, I say good riddance. They would rather have it their way – without negotiation – and by gouging fans, than live on $8.2 million a year.