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PORTSIDE  January 2011, Week 2

PORTSIDE January 2011, Week 2

Subject:

Message to NFL Players and Fans: Drop Dead

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sat, 8 Jan 2011 12:31:30 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (124 lines)

Roger Goodell's Message to NFL Players and Fans: Drop
Dead

By Dave Zirin
The Nation
January 3, 2011

http://www.thenation.com/blog/157438/roger-goodell%E2%80%99s-message-nfl-players-and-fans-drop-dead

Leave it to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to end a
thrilling NFL regular season on a sour, ugly note. As
football fans, sports radio devotees and chat-room
obsessives gathered Monday to discuss the playoff
seedings, Goodell issued an ill-timed letter [1]laying
out the state of negotiations with the NFL Players
Association. Both sides are striving to secure a new
collective bargaining agreement and avoid labor
Armageddon, but based on Goodell's letter, that's where
the similarities end.

In the letter, Goodell seems to be following a tried-
and-true strategy: blame the union and sow resentment
between the fans and the players they pay to watch. But
in taking a closer look at his musty missive, Goodell
also establishes himself as a stalking horse for a
broader, systemic strategy being used by governors and
captains of industry across the country. It's a
strategy that for all the focus-tested language has one
end-goal: getting workers to work harder for less.

First, blame the economy: Goodell writes: "Economic
conditions have changed dramatically inside and outside
the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA. A
10 percent unemployment rate hurts us all. Fans have
limited budgets and rightly want the most for their
money. I get it." Does he get it? There is nothing
about lowering prices for tickets, concessions or
parking. Instead he goes on to blame the greedy unions
for making decent wages and benefits as the reason
there may be no football in 2011. As Goodell writes,
"Yes, NFL players deserve to be paid well.
Unfortunately, economic realities are forcing everyone
to make tough choices and the NFL is no different."
This is the sporting version of something far broader
and more pernicious, as public sector workers are
becoming the Willie Hortons of our economy. They have
become the 2011 scapegoat of choice as politicians
impose the coming austerity. AFSCME has even started a
campaign called "No More Lies [2]" to counter the myths
of the greedy unionists destroying state budgets.

Goodell goes on to lay out his vision for a brighter
future. This brighter future includes players not only
playing for less but also working more. As Goodell
writes, "An enhanced season of 18 regular season and
two preseason games would not add a single game for the
players collectively, but would give fans more
meaningful, high-quality football." Then without irony
and with no transition, Goodell leaps right into his
deep care and concern for players' health, writing,
"Our emphasis on player health and safety is absolutely
essential to the future of our game." Yes, play longer
but nothing is more essential than the health of the
players. As Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Hines
Ward said in comments aimed at Goodell [3], "If you
were so concerned about the safety, why are you adding
two more games? They don't care about the safety of the
game.... They're hypocrites."

Then Goodell goes after the salaries of rookies,
calling for a "rookie pay scale." He writes, "All we're
asking for is a return to common sense in paying our
rookies. Other leagues have done this and we can too."
This is also ridiculous if not immoral. Any sport where
each play can be your last should reject any notion of
a pay scale. Players in this most violent of games
should be able to make as much as the market will bear
and not a penny less.

Goodell finally ends with some blather about wanting to
achieve this kind of "forward looking CBA" and
"protecting the integrity of the game." But there is no
integrity in Goodell's vision: only the same blueprint
for workers we are seeing across the country: work
more, take less. I am sure that there are many who
would read this with little sympathy for NFL players as
workers. But please consider: a typical NFL career is
three and a half years, and as NFL player Scott Fujita
said to me, "We're the only business with a 100 percent
injury rate." The ratings for the NFL this season have
never been higher and no one ever paid hundreds of
dollars to see Jerry Jones stalk the sidelines.

But it's even bigger than all of that. Goodell finishes
this ill-timed screed by writing, "This is about more
than a labor agreement. It's about the future of the
NFL." It's also about the future of this country. We
are living in a time of severe economic crisis. Whether
the bosses or workers are made to pay for this crisis
will be decided in battles large and small taking place
around the country. But for all of these conflicts,
there will be no greater stage or more amplified
battleground than that between NFL owners and players.
The vast majority of fans have a side in this fight.
And it's not with Roger Goodell.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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