By Laurence W. Holmes–
(WSCR) “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. -Gordon Gekko
NFL owners and players continue negotiations. That’s a good thing and I expect things will get figured out and there will be a season. Again, a good thing. What’s interesting is that while all of this is going on, retired NFL players have filed a lawsuit because their interests have not been represented.
Nothing about that is good.
When the lockout began, part of the current players’ platform was that they wanted to make sure that they would be taken care of after they leave the game. They also attached themselves to the former players and wanted to make sure there were better provisions for them, but it seems as if the current players only want to go so far.
The retired players’ lawsuit alleges that the NFL and current players: “are conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former N.F.L. players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current N.F.L. players.”
In other words, the current players want to take care of the retirees, but they want the cost of that care to come out of the owners’ pockets. Strangely, the league has actually seemed willing to meet the current players half-way to address the retirees’ concerns. They’ve even offered up ideas inside and outside the salary cap to meet the retirees’ needs. The current players have balked at the idea.
Throughout this entire ordeal, the NFLPA hasn’t done a good job of publicly making its case. This is another black mark against them. Part of their public argument is the fact that they lay their bodies on the line. Which is true. They argue about how difficult post-NFL life is. And they’re right. If the retirees contention is true, it’s deplorable. The current players hold up the retirees as evidence to back their claims, but don’t want to lend a hand to those who’ve come before them.
I talked with a couple NFL retirees and they aren’t happy. As it stands, they don’t have a seat at the negotiation table and they don’t trust the current players to look out for everyone’s best interest.
The retirees don’t like the fact that the future of their pension is out of their control and there is a lot of resentment towards the current players. Mainly because the retirees feel that they are being sacrificed as a negotiating point by the current players.
They pointed me to a quote from Drew Brees, who is one of the biggest voices of the NFLPA. This is what Brees told USA Today last January about the plight of the retirees:
“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions, they took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.'”
There is some truth to what Brees says, but it doesn’t seem like respect for your elders, does it? A Hall of Famer that I talked to said of the current players: “These guys would throw their own moms under the bus if it meant more money!”
Sadly, when all the bluster, rhetoric and negotiating is gone, that’s all this lockout will have been about.