Dear Mrs. Goodell,
How did it come to this? Greed, pure and simple. Now I’m not connected nor have a pipeline into the NFL offices, yet I will just look at it objectively from an 11 year old’s perspective. The owners have locked the players out which is completely different than the players going out on strike which happened in ’74, ’82, and ’87. What, you don’t remember the strike that took place off season back in the 70s? Ahh…whatever. We can only speculate on what we think is going to happen. The very first thing that comes to mind is the dishonesty in the owners not wanting to open their books when it came to fair negotiations. Players and owners are fighting over the final $1 billion out of the $9 billion that the league makes. The owners are claiming that they are losing money and its simply not true. The act of super glueing the books closed in light of negotiations was testament of that. Had they been losing money and their ledgers reflected this, would we be here??
Lets take a serious look at things: The NFL that Pete Rozelle and company structured had the leagues revenue sharing policies to where network money and the stadium gate be divided among the teams. So if there was a game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings in Soldier Field in 1979, the gate was split 65/35 by the teams. With the home team having the bigger slice of that pie and that went on for decades. Then the teams discovered loopholes to screw each other and came up with luxury boxes with revenue they could keep to themselves. Think back to that middle ring that went around Texas Stadium. Now I know they weren’t the ones that initiated this move but it’s the easiest set of boxes for all of us to remember in the mind’s eye. So add to that stadium naming rights and exclusive deals with Nike and Pepsi, initiated by Jerry Jones in 1995, and teams had other ways to raise non-shared revenues along with concessions. So at last count for a home game a team keeps 65% gate revenue, concessions, jersey sales, alcohol, and parking. All this before the $10.678 million per game from television. *number from the 2009 season*
So for emphasis, and to show the lower case scenario, try this one on: I attended the Oakland Raiders v. Seattle Seahawks on Halloween last year. The tickets were $96, parking was $33, and I lost count of the tequila shots in Raiderville yet I digress… This was in a 45 year old stadium with few luxury boxes. So just to attend that game its $129 at least and thats before the $8 nachos along the mezzanine in the far endzone. Off the record the nachos were huge and had a ton of meat and cheese yet I can easily tell you that of the $280 I spent that day aside from the ticket, Oakland and not Seattle was keeping that money. How much are things in JerryWorld in Dallas, Lucas Oil in Indianapolis, or the New Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey?? Tickets?? Losing money?? Really??
Furthermore there is a difference between the players not wanting to play the 18 game season and stay with a 16 game season. The bulk of the players that have passed on recently with attention on head trauma. The league is completely full of shit when it wants to legislate blows to the head on the field, then increase the number of games at the same time. You can’t call it a money thing because the league’s television contracts wouldn’t change. Furthermore there needs to be something done to insure former players. While at that game I had the chance to sit and talk with former Oakland Raider Marv Hubbard about the former players plight. The majority of players that have physical issues and the inability to receive insurance due to pre-existing conditions. At what point does the league assist those in need and protect the present day player. Its disgraceful.
As for the lockout its different than the strikes that happened in the 1980s, namely 1987. The owners are not in the same situation as they were in 1987. Of the 28 teams only the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts had new stadiums. Aside from the Bills (’73), Saints (’75), and Lions (’75) the rest of the league had 20 year old stadiums with nothing to pay off or were in leases. Now we have fourteen teams with stadiums less than 10 years old with another 7 within 4 years of that. There are a bunch of teams that have bond payments and financing to pay off these new palaces. Why do you think JerryWorld has hosted more boxing matches than the MGM Grand?? Can you say payments?? If this lockout were to go into the season those financial obligations wouldn’t go away. If you were to calculate the cost of missing the new season at $5.5 billion, add up the attorney fees and trust me the networks would motion for rebates or may even take the league to court for not having a product. It would take the league over 5 years to break even for a missed season. Thats why they will play. These are businesses with ownership groups and not singular owners that will get nervous as the lack of revenue draws near. This time the owners will be as nervous as the players where back in 1987 they could outlast the players easily.
So this summer I didn’t worry about things Mrs. Goodell because I knew that they’d come to an agreement. Right now its posturing and nothing more.