Matt Yogus-021511Listen to My Take with Matt Yogus.
Before America even had a chance to realize that the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, the news filled itself with NFL labor negotiations, talk of a possible pro football strike and a whole lot of jabber about who's right and who's wrong.
So, who is wrong, anyway?
The players? The owners? The fans?
Basically, if I've been paying attention - and I've tried not to - here's the situation.
So the National Football League brings in $9 billion a year in profit. Yes, that's billion with a b, not an m.
The owners of the league's 32 teams skim $1 billion off the top to cover their expenses. That leaves $8 billion. Apparently, the owners take $4 billion and the players get the remaining $4 billion. Give or take.
Obviously not all players make the same salary, but the league minimum is $295,000, and that's just for rookies. The number increases significantly each year you're in the league, and even at the minimum, it's not exactly chump change - especially if you're a backup kicker.
Based on those numbers, NFL owners take home a whopping $125 million per season. Each. And apparently, that doesn't factor in things like concession stands and other profit streams.
The primary problem right now, and the center of the negotiations between owners and the National Football League Player's Association, is that both sides want more.
There are plenty of other issues interwoven. Owners want an 18-game season instead of 16 to increase profits, and don't seem to want to pay for it. Players want longer guarantees for rookies and compensation if they have to play more games. Owners want more money for overhead. Players think they shouldn't get any. And the players know that the fans don't buy Arthur Blank or Jerry Jones jerseys.
In other words, both sides want more, more, more.
And why not? This is America, and the market supports their lifestyles. They earn it. If 80,000 people wanted to pay $60 each to watch me lay out tomorrow's sports section, and buy $14 beers and $7 burgers from me while they were watching, I wouldn't stop them. And you better believe I'd demand every cent of it I thought I could get. Yay capitalism, right?
So I say, more power to 'em. I hope they all get what they want.
But the real X-factor, the one people don't seem to be talking about, is where the money they're fighting over actually comes from.
It's our money.
The fans buy the tickets, the concessions, the jerseys, the sweatshirts and the plastic cheese hats, and if it weren't for them, there would be no $9 billion to haggle over. There'd be nothing.
Don't believe me?
Ask the thousands of idiots who stood outside Cowboys Stadium in the cold and huddled around fires to watch the Super Bowl on temporary televisions in the parking lot. They paid $200 for that privilege. Ask the millions of people who spend hundreds of dollars on satellite TV packages to watch every game on every Sunday, or the fans that buy plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, parking passes and tickets just to follow their favorite franchise around the country.
Ask anybody who's ever thrown a dime into the pot that the NFLPA and the owners are haggling over.
In my opinion, everyone involved in the negotiations, the players and the owners, are spitting in the faces of the fans that spend their hard-earned money to line already heavy pockets.
Just shut up already. Come to an agreement and play the game.
The NFL is more popular today than it ever has been, and the fans that support it are being told there might not even be a season next fall to watch.
Yeah, there probably won't be a strike, but I say stop spending money on them. Stop lining their pockets. Stop meeting ever-increasing prices to support your team when the players are actually willing to take the game away from you, the paying customer, just because there's just not enough cash to go around.
They want to go on strike? Beat them to it. How about a fans strike?
For my money, there's plenty of other places to go to watch people playing football - colleges, high schools, arena leagues, semi-pros - the list goes on. Those are less-expensive alternatives, and those players are out there because they still care about the game.
And they're actually glad you are there to watch them play it.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.