FanDuel - WFBC

December 02, 2010

Hines Ward: NFL Run By Hypocrites: "Say one thing, and do another. Talk about safety, but you add two games. Talk about you don't want players to drink, but our major endorsement is Coors Light. That's all you see is beer commercials. ... If they're worried about concussions ... mandate each player has a new helmet. They don't do that. They collect money from every helmet (company) that pays them enough money to get their helmets on the field. Now they have three different helmets, and none of them (are) proven that they work. You say you don't want us to gamble, but you have (point) spreads." -- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Heinz Ward

posted by rcade to football at 04:06 PM - 22 comments

Going point-by-point:

Safety vs. adding two games: Agree with Ward.

Not drinking vs. beer sponsorships: I don't think the NFL is necessarily against players drinking, just against them getting drunk and doing something embarrassing or dangerous. And I don't think the league itself is in control of such endorsements -- the teams and TV networks decide that for the most part. So I'll give the NFL a pass on that one.

Helmets: Don't know enough about this to have an opinion, so I'll give it to Ward.

Gambling: Can't blame the NFL on that one. They aren't the ones who set the point spreads, and they aren't running any gambling operations or encouraging it that I know of. They can't control whether people gamble on the games or not.

So I'll say Ward is 2-for-4, which is good enough to have a point.

posted by TheQatarian at 04:23 PM on December 02

On the beer sponsorshipscommercials, the NFL TV contracts give them quite a lot of control over who can sponsor TV ads (i.e. if they don't want you to advertise, you won't be able to). The Broadcasters won't want to offend the NFL in any way since the NFL games are kind of a cash cow for them, so the mere suggestion that something might possibly be unacceptable is enough to kill the ad (even if no one in the room has ever seen it).

posted by jmauro2000 at 04:41 PM on December 02

So how much will Ward get fined for telling the truth?

posted by graymatters at 06:12 PM on December 02

Ward is the hypocrite IMO

Safety - The players demand more and more money while the fans reject pre season football as being unworthy of buying regular price tickets. So the League replaces two meaning less games with actual games and mitigates the impact on players by negotiating roster increases, injured status etc.

Beer - the league has never to my knowledge tried to stop players from drinking only from breaking the law like drinking and driving or drunk and disorderly conduct. Advertising revenues contribute to the massive contracts the NFL is able to pay players like Ward. Want to make a real statement? Don't accept money that is generated from the sale or advertising of beer.

Helmets - no helmet is going to prevent a helmet to helmet injury to the brain or neck. Should the league try to stop malicious and illegal hits Mr. Ward or just stop fining your teammates when they do them? Helmets prevent skull fractures, facial injuries etc. Brain injuries occur when the head rapidly decelerates or changes direction and the brain collides with the inside of the skull. No helmet is going to prevent some damage from head to head collisions unless the league makes some kind of hitting illegal.

Gambling - as someone else said, gambling on sports in not illegal in same places. The league does everything to prevent players from damaging the integrity of the game by preventing them from doing it. The league has nothing to do with betting lines.

It sounds to me like Ward is just realizing that the league is like every other thing in life. There are trade offs and to me it is hypocritical to complain about them while not actively trying to help the situations and continuing to accept the money while taking a moral high ground position.

As a society we condemn drunk driving but then go watch cars with Budwiser painted on the sides drive down a drag strip at 300 MPH. Now there is a message. If the league wants to promote a message of wholesomeness should they be hiring tatted up dudes that look like a ex cons to be doing United Way spots? Why does Hines Ward feel like everything is the leagues fault or responsibility. I am sure he is rich enough to decide not to work for that employer that is obviously hypocritical and uncaring toward it's employees. Evidently he is getting compensated enough to overlook a few things.

posted by Atheist at 06:37 PM on December 02

They aren't the ones who set the point spreads, and they aren't running any gambling operations or encouraging it that I know of. They can't control whether people gamble on the games or not.

The NFL, however, makes sure that all teams report injuries in detail, and document the probability they will play in the game that week.

The only reason to do that is to give the people setting point spreads as much information as possible.

Every other sport attempts to hide injuries and severity as much as possible, because it gives the opposition information.

posted by grum@work at 07:40 PM on December 02

Hines Ward has been celebrated for his toughness and his durability and it just feels like bullshit to me to hear someone completely outside the game criticize him for being brave enough (or stupid enough?) to state what he thinks is the truth.

posted by outonleave at 08:31 PM on December 02

NFL not involved in beer? Really?

posted by steelergirl at 08:34 PM on December 02

(continued from above) While the NFL doesn't brew beer, I am sure a large amount of cash changed hands for Bud Light to be the "official beer." I could be wrong but I don't think so. If someone can show me I am I would appreciate it.

I do agree with the player safety then add two games argument.

while the fans reject pre season football as being unworthy

I don't watch the preseason because the starters don't play all that much, (or do they?) but I don't think two more regular season games are worth it except for $$$$. Yes the players get paid for those games, but the wear and tear on the body costs more.

posted by steelergirl at 08:47 PM on December 02

it just feels like bullshit to me to hear someone completely outside the game criticize him

Argument from authority: what part of getting hit in the head every Sunday makes him smarter than me?

posted by yerfatma at 08:56 AM on December 03

He is absolutely right about the additional two games. The NFL is exercising safety theater. They throw some fines around for some hits, but are otherwise unconcerned for player safety. They haven't tested and settled on the safest helmet. They denied until it was ludicrous that concussions have a long-term impact on brains. They haven't wanted to take care of former players the way they should. But, according to the NFL, Harrison is the problem. If he will just stop hitting players the way he is, the game will be safe. So safe, in fact, that they can add two more games.

posted by bperk at 09:15 AM on December 03

It's not like the NFL can admit that playing football will effect your long term health even if they thought that was the case. So adding two games, says the NFL, isn't any more dangerous than the current schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if the league executives just refuse to beleive that football takes a terrible toll on people's bodies because if you accept that it does how can you go on making money from it. It's just easier to beleive that it doesn't mame people.

I like the spirit of Ward's comments but I feel like he just misses the mark a bit on all of his points.

posted by tron7 at 11:07 AM on December 03

The NFL, however, makes sure that all teams report injuries in detail, and document the probability they will play in the game that week.

The only reason to do that is to give the people setting point spreads as much information as possible.

I always thought this was more for transparency. With teams reporting many details, it can't look like they are even trying to affect lines or odds in any way.

posted by Ricardo at 11:32 AM on December 03

I'm sooo with him on this, especially the hypocrisy of player safety vs. 18 games.

I've been subscribing to Sunday Ticket for years, but unless provisions are put in place with the collective bargaining agreement to curtail Goodell, then I will be canceling after this season.

Goodell is such a hypocrite. $25k for ripping a helmet off and punches to the face for Johnson, but the same fine for Harrison tackling the QB in the chest. They keep making the argument about Helmet-to-helmet, but they are now fining even if it's not helmet-to-helmet.

Look at this quote from the league spokesman on Harrison's fine last week: "It was illegal because the initial contact with the defenseless quarterback's chest was made with his helmet," Signora said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "It was not a late hit. It was not a hit to the head. And he pulled off the quarterback when they hit the ground. Although it was not flagrant, as a multiple offender of the rules in this area, Harrison received a significant fine."

So he hit the QB in the CHEST. The CHEST!!!!!! They admit this and admit it wasn't late, wasn't agressive, pulled off...yet he still got fined for a hit to the CHEST!!! I'm just shocked that FOOTBALL has come to this.

posted by bdaddy at 11:35 AM on December 03

The NFL, however, makes sure that all teams report injuries in detail, and document the probability they will play in the game that week.

Yep..and I believe Belicheck has made that same argument as one of the reasons why he puts everyone on the injury list at times, etc. The only reason for such injury reports is for betting purposes. (And fantasy football now! :-)

posted by bdaddy at 12:18 PM on December 03

I believe that between the players union, the league and the owners, the NFL has a pretty good balance of power that constantly negotiates, and evolves to better protect the interests of everyone involved as well as can be expected. Is it perfect? No, but it is constantly changing as more and more is learned. Football will never be safe. Nor will auto racing, coal mining, smoking, driving, police work, fire fighting or anything we do in life. Many professions have far greater dangers than Pro Football and compensate the workers far less. These things should not be banned but relevant information should be available and transparent enought that those who choose to participate can make informed consent decisions. The NFL is obviously trying as best as it can to address player safety through rules etc, but the truth is football as we know it is never going to not be hard on a body or be safe.

How about this for a compromise? What if the league expanded the schedule to 18 or even 20 games but allowed teams to increase the size of their rosters. Then with the extra available players instituted a rule that no player may play more than the equivilant of 16 regular season games. Then the league gets the games the players will each have to sit out and be listed as inactive for at least two games ( which will mean no more playing time and add a strategic aspect to the game by forcing coaches to manage playing time or save and rest players for particular games etc. adding to the importance of roster depth and actually create more playing jobs.) Players might actually have mandatory off weeks. A team like the Colts would be required play a second QB for at least two games. Sort of changes the second string role a little.

Another point is that the length of a season is only partially related to player time. There are players that see 12 minutes of action in an entire season depending on their role. Other players miss games due to injury while other players start and play in every game. In the NBA coaching and player decisions determine how many minutes a player is effective in a game and how much he is played or rested. Why not the same for the NFL. Most NFL players want to be on the field. Will a longer season just mean coaches and players will make slightly different decisions regarding playing time to better improve their chances of success over the long haul of the season. Will a longer season take a little less pressure off the importance of every game making an individual game a little less critical to get a particular player who may be nursing an injury on the field? I think so, and as I have said, playing time restrictions could be mandatory if that is what the players and league and owners agree to.


When I go into surgery I sign a consent form that states I understand the inherant risks involved with the procedure and make an informed decision to accept that risk. I find it incredibly hard to believe that with the money available to players, they are not willing participants in pro football knowing full well the associated risks. If I had the ability I would sign in a minute and take my chances, way faster than any money in the world would get me in a coal mine or walking girders as an iron worker on a high rise. These guys all played football for fun as kids, for free in high school, for free or for a fake education in college. Suddenly now that they are getting paid millions football is too dangerous? Watch how fast the players agree to a longer schedule when they feel they are compensated extra for it. I never heard a player say "playoffs? you want me to play possibly 3 or four more games? No way.

posted by Atheist at 01:48 PM on December 03

I find it incredibly hard to believe that with the money available to players, they are not willing participants in pro football knowing full well the associated risks.

I don't understand your argument because that is exactly what the players are saying, including Ward. In fact, Ward said exactly that:

Ward: "When we sign that contract, we know the risks"

And that's exactly what he's bitching at..that a front office full of guys that have never played the game are legislating out the hits from it under a guise of SAFETY (to which Ward argued the point is ridiculous because if they really cared about safety they wouldn't be pushing 18 games.)

posted by bdaddy at 04:12 PM on December 03

I find it incredibly hard to believe that with the money available to players, they are not willing participants in pro football knowing full well the associated risks.

Totally irrelevant unless they have another career option to fall back on that provides a similar level of income. The fact that they know they're making a Devil's Bargain doesn't make the person on the other end of the contract any more morally justified.

posted by yerfatma at 04:21 PM on December 03

Well I am arguing the players are using safety as a way to negotiate more money for playing 18 games, as safety and length of the schedule are really unrelated issues. Yes hypothetically every minute a player is on the field translates to a risk so if fact more minutes played translates into more potential for risk. Does that mean a player wants to play as little as possible per season to last for more seasons = more contracts and more money. Or play more games per season for less seasons = less money. Maybe they should just be paid per game? Of course they will not go for that because they want to be paid whether they play or not. There contracts are rarely tied to minutes played although bonuses may be tied to games or performance.

As I stated above there are a million ways to mitigate the additional games per season to adequately compensate the players or limit their playing time per season while still giving the fans more football and making the league more money, and employing more players. Wouldn't a longer season where players were required to sit out at least two games per season mitigate the difference while also allowing some players to extend their careers backing up first string players who are forced to sit out a couple of games. Similar to the DH in baseball. Many good players got a few more years in that role who were unable to play full time. This would only make the depth chart of a teams bench more important to overall success. I think a second string players monetary value increases if a team knows, even without injury to a starter, the guy will be required to play at least a couple of games while at the same time not lessening the value of the starter. I imagine if you know your top QB can only play 16 games of an 18 or 20 game schedule by rule, it changes a lot for the back up.

I also don't think the number of games is as important as minutes played or position played is. Players who are on teams consistently in the playoffs are always playing extra games every year. Do those players have shorter careers? Probably not. Making the playoffs every year on a team as a starter is a pretty good way to ensure your career lasts longer. Frankly a player like Brett Favre has played more minutes, games, starts etc and lasted far longer than many players who wore out in a tenth of the time on the field. Evidently the amount of games played by a team in a season is not the only factor in determining how long or how much any individual player is on the field.

I really feel the players are using this expanded schedule as a bargaining chip and are just as hypocritical as anybody in using an expanded schedule as an argument that the league can't care about safety if they expand the schedule. Gee if the players are so concerned about the long term health effects of football then why is it the league who has to fine and suspend them for use of steroids if they are the ones who are so concerned about health issues. If players cared about their personal safety so much the league would not have to be the ones to enforce this issue. Bigger faster and more aggressive players are good for revenues but obviously the league has greater concerns than just money. Can the players say the same thing. A lot of these guys will gladly shorten their lives if it means a few more years making big money and staying in the limelight. The league has shown a sincere interest in keeping steriods out, monitoring concussions with mandatory down time even if the player wants to play, preventing spinal/neck injuries etc.

There is plenty of hypocrisy to go around. I only objected to Ward's implication that a league wanting to improve the product and increase revenues means they do not care about safety, when every indication is that the league has for years been modifying rules to keep the game exciting and limit risk to the players which are an asset to the league. It is counter productive to the league objective if its stars are not on the field able to compete. The biggest hypocrisy is that while the greedy players are calling the league and owners greedy, their real motivation may be to in fact keep the a bigger player pool from diluting their own revenue. A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

posted by Atheist at 05:14 PM on December 03

yerfatma - did you just say "Totally irrelevant unless they have another career option to fall back on that provides a similar level of income."

Gee some of these guys are not qualified to work at a car wash. Even a degree in brain surgery can't provide a similar level of income to fall back on if your $12M a year salary as a defensive back goes away. That statement is not relevant.

You are right most players have not prepared to do something else and maybe they should, especially if they feel playing football it too dangerous. The fact is most players are making enough money to have plenty of options after they are done playing football. I can not think of too many better jobs if you can get one playing in the NFL.

posted by Atheist at 05:33 PM on December 03

bdaddy:

I don't understand your argument because that is exactly what the players are saying, including Ward. In fact, Ward said exactly that:

Ward: "When we sign that contract, we know the risks"

But that contract doesn't call for two more games, and that's what Ward is kvetching about. If the NFL wants to have two more games, they'll have to negotiate that with the players' union, and we shall see whether the contact gets signed.

(unless, of course, the union gets decertified, which might actually lead to the best result of the players, and not through the noblesse oblige of the owners either)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:58 PM on December 03

Atheist, I don't really know how to respond to your comments. It just comes off as Caesar deriding those cry-baby gladiators for not liking getting hurt.

posted by yerfatma at 07:05 PM on December 03

Maybe the owners could invest in a helmet that prevents cheap shots. I don't know, Hines Ward acting like he gives a flying fudge about someone else's safety is laughable.

posted by tselson at 12:39 AM on December 04

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