“Greed is good!” – Show Us the Money
Mickey Charles, CEO of The Sports Network, gives his views on the NFL revenue dispute which threatens the start of the 2011-2012 season. Players and franchise owners are arguing as to how to split the US$ 9 billion in revenues derived from the NFL.
“Greed is good!” proclaimed Gordon Gekko. Actually, for most, it was Michael Douglas. That is how we remember people, movies, roles, statements … by association. Yes, greed is good when applied properly but destructive when not, even for the recipient of the proposed riches. However, when it comes to Wall Street or the NFL, hedge fund managers build homes out of Hollywood and other fairy tale books, make billions (no mistake there re “b” instead of “m”), pyramid builders go to the tombs (as in prison), and those that don either shoulder pads and helmets or the mantles of owners throw crumpled $100 bills at one another instead of bullets or rising and falling stocks. Greed drives them all while the audience, the bystanders, the crowds and fans wait with a few saved dollars for investment or tickets in one hand and the family savings and/or budget clutched nervously in the other.
Greed is good for the other guy, when it works. It stinks for you because it usually fails.
Millionaires fighting with billionaires and the fans who make it all happen, even the TV revenue because of the numbers of them tuned to the tube, stand by, waiting on the sidelines, petulant, annoyed, disenchanted, angry and, worst of all, ready to return and get on line at dawn for their opportunity to purchase season tickets or various “game plans.” Is this a ridiculous situation or what? They are robbing your bank and you are inviting them in again as soon as they take a break and settle differences among themselves about who gets what share of the plunder.
Right now, as we watch baseball unwind, basketball and hockey wind down, the NFL franchises will be playing, if they play, pre-season games in a bit over 90 days and going to training camps in somewhat less than that.
It will be close, very close, but everyone stands to lose too much money and greed will drive them all to reconciliation and d√©tente. They will resolve differences and settle. Then each will claim that they took little and gave much but there will be handshakes, smiles and bank account floodgates opened. Networks will breathe a sigh of relief and fans will smile, even cheer, but how silly is that? They, the players and owners, own the castle and surrounding lands, they are the lords of all they survey and you … well you are the populace about whom they care little, if at all.
They have now agreed to federal mediation accepting a judge’s idea to hold negotiations in a Minnesota court. Maybe they, the players, figure that is a safer haven than a big city court. But, later, the NFL proposed negotiations in Washington under George Cohen, the federal mediator who oversaw several weeks of discussions before the players decertified their union to file a lawsuit and the owners began the lockout.
The press releases that are coming out from both sides are as transparent as the entire process, a façade, a gossamer of reality. They know it, we should know it, the court surely knows it and the press ought to be disenfranchised if they are taken in by it. It is a game played between the goal posts of the greedy.
Does everyone understand a lockout? The players cannot go to work. Owners have closed the doors. Now the players want an injunction, usually issued to stop something, to start something…lifting the lockout. Ironic on the face of it. They want mediation now, so they say. But where? Hell, we have huge offices. Y ‚Äòall come down. Bring the whole gang, including attorneys.

Does this lockout violate any federal antitrust law? Nah. Any ruling that says it does will likely be overturned. It is a game. It is, admittedly, on a grand scale but we, the country, allowed that to happen and, yes…you are right…we had no say in how it all fell into place. But others did and they let the foxes run away with the chickens without so much as a “Hey you, come back here!”
Now they are arguing about what the talks should be about instead of having them and then arguing. In other words, what should we argue about? They have to be kidding! Rich does not mean smart. It could mean lucky, inherited family fortune, one good deal that personified you as what you are not or using OPM (Other People’ Money).
You should all stay home but that is not what American sports fans do. They are sheep waiting to be told to cross the road. This will be settled and you will go to the games and pay outrageous prices for seats, drinks, hot dogs, burgers, programs and a shirt or two. They beat the hell out of you and you go back for more, giving them, and the networks, the advertisers, the funds for them to do this…argue about who is greedier. Where is Gordon Gekko when we need him?
I know, and you know, that you do not understand what the hell they are arguing over so let’ summarize it…and cover the key issues, not the nonsense, but point out a few of the latter just to make the point…i.e., items we, you and I, could agree upon in about 10 seconds.
1. A salary cap for 2011 that would avoid a negative financial impact on veteran players. 2011 salary and benefits set at US$ 141 million per club with an increase by as much as US$ 20 million per club by 2014. How much did you say you would earn this year?
2. This one sounds like a slam dunk…make that 15 yard field goal…free agency for players with four or more accrued seasons and reduced draft choice compensation for restricted free agents.
3. Commit to retain the current 16-game regular-season format for at least the next two seasons, and further commit not to change to an 18-game regular season without the union’s agreement. Duh, how tough is that?
4. Think you can make it on $1 million annually? I figured that, so how does expanding injury guarantees for players with the clubs offering to guarantee up to $1 million of a second year of your contract if you are injured and cannot return to play sound? Gosh, we have to wash the car by hand and not have it simonized every week.
5. For the first time, players and families would be able to purchase continuing coverage in the player medical plan after retirement for life, and could use their health savings account benefit to do so.
6. Enhanced retirement benefits for pre-1993 players. More than 2,000 former players would have received an immediate increase in their pensions averaging nearly 60 percent, funded entirely by the owners.
7. A new entry-level compensation system that would make more than $300 million per draft class available for veterans’ pay and player benefits. The new system would preserve individual negotiations – not a wage scale – and would allow players drafted in Rounds 2 through 7 to earn as much or more than they earn today.
8. Significant changes in disciplinary procedures, including a jointly appointed neutral arbitrator to hear all drug and steroid appeals. Gee, the regular courts have no say in what the rest of you would be arrested for undertaking. Sounds like being a player and an addict has its advantages.
So, what do the players have to say about some of salient items, and I certainly have not covered all since most are more suited for pre-school consideration and determination. Onward.
Let me summarize it and save all of us a whole lot of time…Show us the money!!!!
The players want to be the owners. They want control. The employees, the union representing them, wants the owners to bend over, grab their ankles and, well, you know the rest. For those of you that are business owners, you know what you did to get where you are and, yes, the employees helped along the way but you, one would hope or imagine, paid them for their efforts while you took all of the risks. The risks of the players are the physical backlashes they might encounter but they are paid incredibly handsomely for that eventuality, a contingency that is relatively isolated.
What they ought to do one day is check into what indentured slaves like cricket players are paid, the relatively minor amounts doled out to rugby players to keep them from being on the dole and the salaries of most soccer players world-wide. They do that and some of these guys are Gates and Buffett by comparison.
No 18-game season, and no to delaying it for only one more year because 2011 was not possible. Anyone seen a medical expert around, the sort that the players brought in to warn, for a fee…of course, that increasing the season would increase the risk of player injury and shorten careers. I’m not a doctor but, c’mon, a twelve minute game when boiled down and a few more will shorten careers?!?!?! Nah.
The players want to be partners…plain, pure and simple. Fifty-fifty of all revenues. Financial benefits of free agency and exploiting talents and achievements to the highest bidder. They want to be partners without assuming any of the risks attendant to same other than ballooning injuries into Grey’ Anatomy and a hospital ward at every stadium. It is a tough game that no one was forced to play. A game where far too many went to the NFL minor leagues, college, just to showcase and enter the draft…NFL style, not Iraq or Afghanistan. Wine, women, song, fine cars, big homes and Ralph Lauren wardrobes plus the mandatory Rolex.
Success in the NFL opens a host of other doors for many players, and 90% of those … perhaps more … come with dollar signs attached to them. I have not seen the owners asking for a share of that revenue, all of which is a result of playing in the NFL.

I am not taking the side of the owners, although it seems so. I am just saying that the amount of greed being displayed here makes much, not all, of Wall Street look simple. At least it was cut and dry for Gordon Gekko. The money was there for the taking and, like many hedge fund managers today, he reached into the open cookie jar. Those fund managers, by the way, are pulling in $1-5 billion annually…for themselves. No misprint there. No one is their partner except, maybe, the wife with a good pre-nuptial agreement.
Playing in the NFL is a job. That has been forgotten, just as the fans have. The peasantry, the common herd and multitudes want their game back and seem oblivious to how distant they are from the financial in-fighting taking place. Why aren’t you pissed off? What aren’t you doing something? Why not a fans’ union to make demands as well? Unrealistic you say. You are right, it is, but there is a point to be made. You are insignificant, just the ticket holder to this battle of bankbooks and accounts.
How will it end? You gotta be kidding me? They will play. Greed. Greed is good.