NFL players want Congress to intervene in contract dispute
posted at 4:12 pm on January 14, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
As Hot Air readers know, I’m a big fan of NFL football, and my weekly football picks are one of my favorite regular features. I also love to follow and write about politics, too. That doesn’t mean that I think mixing the two is a good idea, however. The NFL Players Association apparently does, flooding Capitol Hill with appearances and pleas to intercede with NFL owners who are threatening a lockout in 2011:
As the specter of a year without pro football looms, the National Football League Players Association is taking its case to the halls of Congress — mounting an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign urging lawmakers to push the owners to strike a deal before the March 3 deadline.
It’s not an easy sell. Realizing that there’s little sympathy for multimillion-dollar athletes clashing with billionaire owners over the size of their paydays, the players set about writing a narrative that casts them more as the scrappy kid in “Rudy” than the mercenaries of “Any Given Sunday.”
I think I’ll toss a flag on Chris Frates for putting the great film Rudy in the same paragraph as Any Given Sunday. Another flag goes to Ravens cornerback Dominique Foxworth, who told Politico that he’ll lose his health insurance for him and his family if there’s a lockout. Bear in mind that Foxworth signed a four-year contract in 2009 that guaranteed him $16.5 million. If Foxworth put aside a million or so for a rainy day, that would be the equivalent of 20 years of the average household salary in the United States. I doubt Foxworth will have problems paying for doctors.
Playing the sympathy card isn’t the only dubious argument coming from the players, whose minimum salary for a rookie this season was $325,000. They also tried pushing Congress into action by claiming a lockout would cost each NFL city over $160 million in lost revenue and jobs. Politifact called a five-yard penalty for a false start on that one, noting as sports economists regularly do that entertainment dollars not spent on the NFL will simply get spent on other entertainment venues. In fact, with the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL threatening to make Minneapolis a “cold Omaha” by leaving town, that lesson might be rather timely indeed in the Twin Cities.
Basically, we have two groups of wealthy people who can’t agree on the distribution of billions in revenue from a shared private enterprise. That isn’t anything Congress needs to regulate, nor should it require federal intervention at all. As Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, puts it, “The NFL and NFLPA are literally and figuratively big boys. They do not need Congress’s help to referee every business dispute.” Congress has much more pressing business to conduct than to tell this collection of millionaires to grow up.
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