UnNews:US gives up NFL for Lent
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12 March 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Both sides have made their selections during this traditional Catholic season of abstinence. The National Football League (NFL) is going to give up playing football; while the Players Association (NFLPA) is going to give up existing.
To be sure, few NFL games are played in March or April anyway. But the dual stoic gestures risk disrupting the upcoming season, starting with the crucial four late-summer exhibition games, for which season-ticket holders are required to pay full price, to watch kids drafted out of college who have no hope of being on the real team.
The NFL is permitted to scoop $1,000 million from the loot waterfall into its big safari hat before even thinking of sharing any with the players. It adopted the initial bargaining stance of wanting to make that $2,000 million, but lowered that demand just before talks broke off at midnight Friday. The NFL also offered to establish a special "rookie wage scale," which would affect 19-year-olds drafted as college freshmen who have never seen a big wad of money outside a cocaine deal. The cash would fund "payments to veterans and retired players," but surprisingly, the prospect of taking advantage of newbies bought no one off.
The handwriting was on the wall a week earlier, when the sides agreed to a seven-day extension of the contract--then left for the weekend, pissing away the first two days. The extended talks broke down when the union wanted to see the owners' audited books and the owners said they felt hurt at the players' lack of trust.
These negotiating gambits, like most medical tests performed in the United States, are done either to stay out of court or to contrive a way to get your adversary into court. The NFL is immune from certain lawsuits provided that its talent has a labor union. Consequently, fifteen minutes after the sides left the negotiating table for good, union lawyer Jim Quinn lined up the business agents of the NFLPA and killed them all, with a single bullet to the head of each, before taking his own life. Immediately thereafter, New England quarterback Tom Brady and his Indianapolis counterpart Peyton Manning filed suit against the league, claiming pain and suffering based on annual salaries of around $15 million. The plaintiffs claim that, in free-market capitalism, marquee quarterbacks would be free to sell their services to the highest bidder every Sunday morning, just before that week's NFL game. Since they cannot, the legal team says the NFL is guilty of "restraint of trade" under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
The NFL then invoked its right under the expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement to nullify all player contracts. New York Giants owner John Mara, for his part, said, "Oh yeah? Well, take that!" When the first player arrived at an NFL facility for "off-season conditioning"--which means to soak for an hour in the team whirlpool and try to track down that shapely massage therapist--he was denied entry and the conflict became not a "strike" but a "lock-out."
- Howard Fendrich "Lockout Leaves NFL in Limbo After Talks Break Off." Associated Press, March 12, 2011