FanDuel - WFBC

March 15, 2011

Adrian Peterson Calls NFL 'Modern-Day Slavery': Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson called the NFL's arrangement with players "modern-day slavery" in an interview Friday. "The players are getting robbed," said Peterson, who earned $10.2 million in salary last season. "They are. The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with."

posted by rcade to football at 04:31 PM - 32 comments

And what might have begun as a legitimate argument gets completely blown out of the water by hyperbole once again. Nice work, AP.

posted by tahoemoj at 04:44 PM on March 15

Peterson needs to come to the realization owners are going to make money. Lots of it. That is often why owners own teams, why they are wealthy and own businesses, etc. To make large amounts of money. When I worked for a newspaper, I understood the publisher made a lot of money. It would have been nice if he would have taken all the money he made and divided it among the workers. Didn't really happen. My option could have been to stop writing for the newspaper, start my own, and eventually be the publisher who made large amounts of money.

I don't see the NFL as being much different. The owners hire the players and pay them. The wages they receive, especially the better players, is fair.

So Peterson's belief the NFL situation is "modern-day slavery," even though a ridiculous analogy, could actually be used to describe practically all professions. And Adrian always has the option to pursue another career path, one that possibly will allow him to feel more valued as a human being. Just like the rest of the human race.

posted by dyams at 04:49 PM on March 15

well put, dyams.

He should try using the knowledge he acquired in the classrooms in college and put it to use.

posted by scully at 04:54 PM on March 15

Peterson makes enough money to start a decent-sized company and own his own slaves.

posted by rcade at 04:59 PM on March 15

He should try using the knowledge he acquired in the classrooms in college and put it to use.

What are the odds that you typed that entire sentence without pausing to laugh hysterically?

posted by tahoemoj at 05:00 PM on March 15

And what might have begun as a legitimate argument gets completely blown out of the water by hyperbole once again.

Exactly. Someone needs to stop taking those phone calls from Larry Johnson. "The Gram-ma-ma" one, though I wouldn't recommend picking up if the ex-KC running back shows up on your caller ID either.

posted by yerfatma at 05:06 PM on March 15

Note to AP: It'll be slavery when Zygi Wilf has you picking cotton -- then stops paying you, starts beating you and owns your children.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:13 PM on March 15

People use "slavery" all the time without the pre-Civil War connotations. And, while players (include Peterson) can make millions, I'm not willing to forget based on his use of this one word that players are risking both their bodies and their minds. With their careers generally lasting around three years, most of them are not ending up rich despite their sacrifice.

posted by bperk at 05:51 PM on March 15

Between this and the draft thing, I can only say that if the players are trying to push public opinion toward the owners, they're doing a good job. Until Friday, I was more or less on the players' side, but I've been losing sympathy for them since then.

posted by TheQatarian at 05:54 PM on March 15

With their careers generally lasting around three years, most of them are not ending up rich despite their sacrifice.

But isn't that more reason not to trivialize both the reality of slavery and the essence of the players' argument by saying something so detached from reality? As qatarian said, do statements like this not push sympathies and opinions toward owners?

posted by tahoemoj at 05:58 PM on March 15

"Slavery" is hyperbole, but it's hyperbole that's widely used to describe workplace situations that are no more unfair than this one. It's maybe worthy of an eyeroll, but that's about it.

I wonder if the players have a communications strategy, really (although after decertifcation, I guess "they" don't have anything officially at this point). Not that I think that anyone suggested to Adrian Peterson that he should put himself forward as a spokesman, but it seems to me that they've been playing the wrong angles. The fans know about the short careers and injuries and separation from families and the fact that most players don't get paid all that much (whether they understand about those things is a different matter, but that's neither here nor there). But they often seem to overlook the obvious fact that an NFL player has nowhere else to go to get a job. The owners contend over various things, but when it comes to keeping control over the league, I don't see any of them breaking ranks. As a result, NFL owners do complete for employees in one sense, but not so much in the ways that matter the most. It does seem like there's some legitimate basis for antitrust proceedings.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:07 PM on March 15

Between this and the draft thing, I can only say that if the players are trying to push public opinion toward the owners, they're doing a good job. Until Friday, I was more or less on the players' side, but I've been losing sympathy for them since then.

Yes, one player said one stupid thing and it got published and now I favor the quadrillionaires over those dumb players, too.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:38 PM on March 15

I kid because I love.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:39 PM on March 15

He should try using the knowledge he acquired in the classrooms in college and put it to use.

Wait, didn't he go to Oklahoma U.? Knowledge? Classrooms?

posted by graymatters at 06:45 PM on March 15

Yes, they have short playing careers and risk their bodies, BUT they chose their careers knowing what toll it will take. And their compensation in most cases is still more than the average person will make over their entire lifetime of working.

And yes, the NFL is essentially a monopoly.

But I still don't give a shit if they play or not.

College players are more accurately associated with the "slave" term and they'll still be playing this fall.

posted by scully at 06:46 PM on March 15

Yes, one player said one stupid thing and it got published and now I favor the quadrillionaires over those dumb players, too.

Agreed. Why would anything anyone says change a carefully considered opinion?

BUT they chose their careers knowing what toll it will take

Exactly. Just like any stripper who complains about her lot in life. No sympathy lady, you chose it. Don't care about context. I deal in absolutes baby, black and/ or white!

posted by yerfatma at 07:07 PM on March 15

I think what Adrian is trying to say is that the old model needs to be replaced with the new model. Owners will be owners, owners will make tons of money, but these guys refuse to open their books and negotiate fairly and openly with their employees.

In this sense, being signed to a record label was also a form of slavery. Black rappers signing ridiculously constrictive contracts, handing over their publishing rights for pennies to the dollar. And for what? Marketing? Distribution? Sure you could say they are employees. Sure you could say they have the option to get a straight job like everyone else.

Or the system could be brought down. If owners in the NFL are plundering millions of dollars, you would want to know that before sitting down for a collective bargaining agreement. It would be one of the terms of a fair negotiation. Unfortunately the owners do not accept this idea, and this is what I think prompts somebody like Adrian to talk about being treated like a slave, despite his salary.

It is implied, I believe, that if the owners were compelled to disclose how much money they made, the fanbase would be disgusted and the union would gain a lot of public support, and the owners would lose a lot of leverage permanently.

The same situation, now that I think about it, happened here in Los Angeles with the SAG strike. Studios did not reveal their accounting or business models for the future involving new media distribution. To do so would have involved conceding to an equitable arrangement. The unions are also similar in that they represent a wide range of salaries, and that's quite a difficult thing to do, as the membership will fray over time. The books will never be opened; how the union expects to move past this point, I do not know.

posted by phaedon at 07:15 PM on March 15

these guys refuse to open their books and negotiate fairly and openly with their employees.

A fair point, a major reason why I am on the players side, and what Peterson should have said, instead of that mind-bogglingly stupid comment.

Don't care about context.

Here's some context: It would take the average U.S. household 204 years to make Peterson's 2011 salary of $10.2 million.

posted by cjets at 07:33 PM on March 15

cjets, I was sure you were wrong, no way it would be 204 years.

I am wrong, at $50 K/year: 2 centuries, and 4/10ths of a decade is correct.

posted by tommytrump at 08:20 PM on March 15

...but these guys refuse to open their books and negotiate fairly and openly with their employees.

I'm curious: when did it become a standard labor negotiation practice for management to open their books to the union so that the union can then calculate their demands? Is that how it is done between, say, GM and UAW? And how about from the union side; what sort of confidential information are they required to provide to management that might effect the course of negotiations? You know, like confidential player files on PED use and the like.

posted by billinnagoya at 08:46 PM on March 15

Sounds like Adrian Peterson has fumbled the ball again.

posted by grum@work at 08:53 PM on March 15

I dislike this "slavery" comparison just as much as I dislike when the whole "race card" gets tossed around so freely.

But aside from that, it's difficult to choose a side on the whole ordeal, though I think I do lean a tad towards the owners. As billinnagoya stated, why exactly would owners need to prove to the employees, aka the players, how much they make? Of course I'll openly admit up front that I know nothing about the structure and function of a union. But obviously I wouldn't be able to go to my CEO and say "hey, you make x amount more than me, you can afford to pay me more or I'm not doing any work." So on that area, I side with owners.

Then the side of the players would be without us, you do not make that money. The fans come to see us play, they buy our merchandise, and our talent level is what gets us the wins and attracts fans to the stadium (lol...ok we'll exclude the Panthers from this one, I'm in Charlotte so I can say that!). And what makes sporting entertainment so much different than the normal day to day job is that you can't exactly, as management, just say to every star player "ok, we'll just get rid of you and find someone to work for cheaper." Well I mean you could, but in such an intense and competitive game, that's quite a risk to take, as not all backup players are going to end up having Tom Brady-like results. (ouch that just hurt to say!)

But either way...especially in this economy...it's extremely difficult to side with anyone when we're discussing people making millions of dollars and greed all over. Think about the fans for once, cut back on the incredible amount of money you're already making and take a slightly less profit (yet still a considerable profit), and maybe make it more affordable for the average fan to enjoy going to a game?

posted by Griff23Jordan at 09:11 PM on March 15

Think about the fans for once

That's who I've been thinking about, and municipalities and taxpayers as well.

Who's a slave? Anyone who gets shackled to the long term debt obligations that get floated to build extravagant publicly funded stadiums, which generate an income stream that enriches both the owners and the dunces like Peterson.

posted by beaverboard at 10:20 PM on March 15

It's modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too.

Yes, and these are your people working regular jobs, AP and owners. You both are treating them like shit.

posted by tselson at 10:34 PM on March 15

billinnagoya, it's not standard for the employer to open their books to the employees, but this is not a normal labor situation. And even if it was, the owners agreed to share information in order to get money back from the players. They players agreed to give money back, the argument is over how much to give back. Without seeing the books the players have to trust whatever number the owners come up with. If it was me, and I had to give money back to someone based on their revenue numbers, I'd kind of want to see them before agreeing to a dollar amount.

posted by apoch at 04:28 AM on March 16

As billinnagoya stated, why exactly would owners need to prove to the employees, aka the players, how much they make?

The owners had a deal sharing 58% of revenue with players. They're claiming that the players' cut is too high and they must receive an additional $1 billion off the top before sharing revenue on the next deal.

As Apoch said, without seeing their books, players have no way of knowing whether the owners are playing games with what they call revenue. An owner could pay 20 of his relatives huge salaries and call that a football expense.

It doesn't help matters that in the few instances where the books of American pro franchises have been opened, some teams that were claiming poverty actually were making significant annual profits.

posted by rcade at 08:44 AM on March 16

@billinnagoya: General Motors is a publicly traded corporation and as a result files lots of financial data with the SEC, all of which is obtainable by the UAW. Pro football teams, OTOH, are privately held and file nothing, essentially, with the SEC. So think a little harder next time you try to make a point, m'kay?

posted by billsaysthis at 12:05 PM on March 16

I dislike this "slavery" comparison just as much as I dislike when the whole "race card" gets tossed around so freely.

Do you mean when someone automatically alleges that they are being treated poorly because of their race, or when someone automatically reacts to a complaint of racially-motivated poor treatment by yelping, "Race card!" and refusing to consider that the claim might possibly have merit?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:33 PM on March 17

General Motors is a publicly traded corporation and as a result files lots of financial data with the SEC, all of which is obtainable by the UAW. Pro football teams, OTOH, are privately held and file nothing, essentially, with the SEC. So think a little harder next time you try to make a point, m'kay?

My fellow bill, actually I had thought about it, though obviously not to your satisfaction. I've learned over the years that most participants in these sorts of on-line discussions are not interested in reading detailed opinions, so I usually try to keep my postings brief.

You have a point in that the information available via the SEC on a publicly traded corporation far exceeds that which might be available on privately-owned businesses. HOWEVER, that too would pale by comparison to direct access to the accounting books--which is what the NFLPA, MLBPA, NBAPA, etc. have been calling for since the mid-1970s at least. Granting such access not only would require the ownership to metaphorically strip naked for union inspection but would also allow the union's accountants to be equally creative in their interpretation of the bookkeeping as they press their case for an even bigger portion of the pie--which currently exceeds 50%.

Do not get the idea that I am necessarily on the owners' side. Actually I say a curse on both their houses. Neither the billionaires nor the millionaires will ever be satisfied with what they have; they'll always see what the other side has and want more. Still, I have little sympathy with the union because, in the end, it will be the fans who foot the bill; people who are for the most part members of the working-class whose lifetime incomes will never amount to what most of the players will make in a year or two.

Respectfully ...

posted by billinnagoya at 09:41 PM on March 17

I'm totally with the players. Always. No one needs the owners. Nobody really even cares who they are. Can't have games with just owners. Fuck them. They just figured out how to make horrendous wads of money off the players. It's all off the players. Go players.

Also - most of you are going to die before you turn 55. So, you know, make it worth it.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:57 PM on March 17

Can't have games with just owners.

No, but you wouldn't have any without them, either. They're the ones that hire and pay the coaching staff, trainers, support personnel, and, yes, the players themselves; they provide the uniforms, equipment, training facilities, etc.; they hire the venue (often with huge taxpayer support!!!), arrange and provide the transportation; and on and on. Maybe in the end they make more than they deserve, but where would professional sports be without them?

Seriously, what do you think might be the chances of success in this day and age of a player-owned and operated franchise, like baseball's Players' League that existed for the 1890 season?

posted by billinnagoya at 12:34 AM on March 18

yerfatma, seriously? You're going there? A stripper is the same as a person who (in many cases) gets a free ride to go to a university and has an opportunity to get an education, then decides to enter the NFL draft? Really? Because I don't see it.

posted by scully at 04:00 PM on March 18

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.