As one of the premier sportswriters in the country points out, to start the 2010/2011 NFL season, on the verge of a lockout next season, the Vikings and Saints showed a sign of solidarity by all raising their finger together to show that they are one in the collective bargaining session soon to begin!
In a country where unions are ignored when they’re not demonized, it was perhaps the most widely-seen, collectively experienced display of labor solidarity in the history of the United States. Hyperbole? Consider that the game garnered the highest opening night ratings in the history of the NFL. 28% of all households were unexpectedly treated to a taste of solidarity.
While I know that many of our friends on the right will attack this post and the players of the NFL, know that as Drew Brees says more is to come. “You’ll see that a lot,” said Brees, a member of the NFLPA’s board of directors. “That was a symbol of solidarity amongst all players in the NFL. We are one group, one team, one voice.”
Before we start with the talking point of Millionaires V Billionaires, and they get paid to play a game, etc… I will let NFL players Association president DeMaurice Smith answer to that:
Zirin: You’ve got a lot of reporters that say, “A pox on both their houses. It’s millionaires versus billionaires.” How do you make the case to say it’s not just rich people squabbling, that there is something bigger at stake?
Smith: The first thing I do is challenge reporters on how much they know. When I was at the Super Bowl and I had a press conference with 120 or 130 reporters who covered football for years. I asked them raise your hand if you knew the National Football League was a non-profit organization? Silence. It is. It’s a 501 C 6 non-profit. How many people know last year the National Football League generated $9 billion in revenue. According to Forbes every team averages $31 million in profit every year. Every team is worth $1 billion. And here’s the kicker, over the last 15 years every team’s value has grown by about 500 percent. So, that’s the owner’s side.
Now for the players, the average salary in the National Football League is $700,000. You will never find a player who’s going to say we’re crying in the poor house. I tell our players the reason you have to be responsible is that the average wage for a man between the ages of 21 and 24 in America is about $25,000. We should never be in a position where we have to give up based on money. That’s insulting. But on our side of the table, the average career for a football player is 3.6 years. It takes you three years and three games in order to get five years of health care coverage when you’re done playing. If you play any less than three years you don’t get any health care coverage when you tire. If you play three years and three games, you still only get five years.