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Wednesday Wondering - How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

In amidst all of the he said, he said ('cause face it, no women are involved) of this whole CBA thing, both sides seem to be trying to win the in the court of public opinion. The owners have talked about a lockout for two years. They scheduled TV deals so they had money in case of a lockout. Now after telling us they really tried to get a deal done, they say they were forced to do a lockout. Ok, whatever you say.

The players have talked about following their last winning strategy of decertification for nearly as long as the owners have on their plan. They say they want the owners to show them records that they know the owners don't legally have to show them and don't want to show them. The owners countered by offering to show them more records than the union has ever seen in any CBA negotiation to date. In other words, every CBA deal has already been done with less information than they were going to be given. The union doesn't discredit this claim, they just state that it wasn't as much information as they wanted. In the end, is it any surprise the union followed the game plan they had all along?

Now it sits in the courts where both sides say they didn't want it to go, even as they were pushing as hard as they could to get it there. Forgive me if I don't believe a word that either side says going forward. Adrian Peterson comparing making millions in the NFL to slavery? Please. Every soldier, airman, and seaman in our military has less freedoms than an NFL star or any other citizen in our nation (except maybe criminals) - the UCMJ sees to that. They definitely make less money, have less recognotion, and status. Oh, but the NFL has short careers? No one in the military knows how long his/her career will last. You could lose a limb or your life at any time - even if you're on a stateside base like Ft. Hood. Slavery? Really?

I can't stand the ownership that sets ticket prices so high that most families can't enjoy a game. I can't stand the NFL that does everything it can to black out games in areas simply because people have better uses for their money. Do you pay rent and feed your family or do you watch the Panthers' losing season from the nose bleed section? These are tough times and tough choices need to be made. I also can't stand companies that buy the tickets as an "entertainment expense" and then don't give their workers a cost of living raise. Some workers are "protected" by unions, but many are not. I put protected in quotes because most unions are only there to protect themselves.

My dad worked in union shops his whole life after the military. Lack of union seniority kept him off of day shift where he could have watched us compete in our sports before we graduated. The union took dues and some cash from the company to give him a meager pension when he retired. That pension was cut in half after he died because of course my mom's expenses were halved when she was on her own. Right? Needless to say that my experience with unions has not been particularly pleasant. Still, I know that for some people they serve a useful purpose.

Still none of that matters because the NFLPA was never a real union. Unions act on behalf of its members for the benefit of all of its members. They negotiate wages and salaries for its members. In the NFL, the agents negotiate on behalf of each player. In a real union, people who do the same job get more or less the same pay. In the NFL, there is no real parity or at least, none that is negotiated by the union. One QB can make league minimum while another gets a record setting contract. In a real union, worker safety is addressed, and provision is made for retirement. The NFLPA does nothing to look at helmets that limit concussions, and has a long history of ignoring the plight of retired players. The NFLPA was never a real union. It just played one on TV.

It's hard for the average person who makes less than 6 figures, to see how dividing nearly 11 figures is any kind of a problem. Without interest, 9 billion would net you a $50,000 salary for the next 180,000 years. Half of that money for players on a 53 man roster for 32 teams would average 2,650,000 for each player. Average career being 3 years, means an average income of almost 8 million for every player. If you could earn 1% on that per year, you'd have $80,000 per year for life without ever touching the principal. You may have to stop short of a fleet of vehicles and diamond encrusted teeth, but most people could make a go of it.

If they are trying to get sympathy, they'll find none here. If they're trying to sell it, I'm not buying. The NFL is in the business of entertainment, and I find none of this entertaining. The only ones I feel even remotely sorry for are the guys who weren't at the bargaining table. The support staff: coaches, marketing people, beer vendors, the guy who takes the tickets, trainers, the foam finger-seller gal, scout staff, the cheerleaders, and the guy who sweats his butt off in the Pat the Patriot costume. I also feel sorry for the people who look to football as an escape: the little bald kid in the Patriots jersey who just got out of chemo, the guy or gal who is trying to support his/her family on minimum wage, and the old guys at the retirement home who huddle around the TV as a way to bond since they're no longer among family. I care about those people. I can't say the same thing about the NFL or NFLPA.