I took a 40-day backpacking trip back home in Wyoming this summer. When I left, the NFL wasn’t a National Football League at all. It was a bunch of rich guys in suits fighting over adding another zero to their paychecks.
I remember my friend had an ESPN T-shirt that read, “Without sports, we’d have to follow politics.” Before I left for my trip, football felt a lot more like politics than it did football. Sports Center seemed a lot more like CNN. It felt good to leave technology and the media for 40 days and just have faith that football wouldn’t be completely ruined by greed like so many other things in our culture seem to be.
Luckily, there was too much dough to be made. There was more to lose than to gain for these wealthy children with gray hair and plastic wives (the owners).
I realize the players weren’t blameless in all these “labor disputes,” which is pretty much the adult version of a 6th grade spit-wad shootout, but throughout the whole ordeal, I couldn’t help but put most of it on the owners.
They represented almost everything I think is wrong with our country, and even worse, they represented it in the world of sports, the one place many people count on for a break from reality.
Here is what those – to put it politely – greedy, greasy-fingered schmucks represented that got me so fired up.
And make no mistake about, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t just on the owner’s side, he’s the head of the gang.
An April 2010 article by the Sports Business Journal shows just how bad Goodell wants the NFL to take on the big business mentality. The article states that by 2027, Goodell wants the league to reach $25 billion in revenue. Right now, it’s somewhere around $10 billion, which means almost a billion dollar increase each season.
Compare those numbers to 1994 when it was $34.6 million and you can see just how much the NFL can grow in 15 years or so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against growth and running a successful business. I love a well-run company.
But here’s the thing: the NFL is perfect where it is right now. In just 16 years, it has grown almost 30 times bigger financially. It’s not like Jerry Jones goes home at night and chooses between ramen noodles or a bologna-mayo sandwich for dinner.
The lockout may be over as of right now, but the whole ordeal showed a lot about the character of our most sacred sports commissioner; he is all about big-business. I didn’t hear him yapping about the danger of concussions while he was advocating adding two regular season games to the 16-game schedule.
Here’s what he says to me when he takes that stance: more money is more important than fewer concussions. You can’t do that and then ask James Harrison not to try and kill quarterbacks for a living.
So while football is back and bigger than ever, NFL fans may not have seen the end of a commissioner and his very ritzy-rag-tag gang of owners who are pushing a big-business agenda.
Anyone who has been to the bank or paid their tuition lately knows how great big business can be.