FanDuel - WFBC

April 27, 2011

Peyton Manning Tanks Concussion Tests: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning says that he intentionally fails the NFL's baseline concussion tests so that it's easier to pass them after suffering a concussion. "Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures," he told ESPN. "And they do it with words, too. Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words. Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can't play. So I just try to do badly on the first test."

posted by rcade to football at 02:11 PM - 53 comments

Seems like the weirdest bit of self-promotion in a while from Peyton.

/Pats fan

posted by yerfatma at 02:19 PM on April 27

Once again evidence about how much the players are concerned about the safety of playing football.

So while you have a league trying to protect the players from concussions, trying to change the way players hit, trying to prevent the players from using dangerous substances, you have the players doing everything they can to circumvent the system. Of course they will talk about how dangerous playing is when negotiating about money, but as soon as the money issues are settled they will go on playing because truthfully, they love it. Why else would a player go as far as to try to mislead the trainers and doctors regarding a concussion.

posted by Atheist at 02:37 PM on April 27

So I just try to do badly on the first test.

Riiiiiight. That never fooled my parents when I was in school. But they were smarter than the NFL.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:38 PM on April 27

Stay classy, Peyton. Setting another great example for the kids. I'm also a Pats fan, but it's so fascinating to me to watch the differences between Manning and Brady. Both are insanely competitive and successful, but Peyton does it by being a whiny control freak and Brady does it by being an almost robotic, ice-in-his-veins professional. I know which one I'd prefer to watch, even if I wasn't already biased.

posted by Rock Steady at 02:39 PM on April 27

This makes Manning look incredibly foolish -- both doing it and talking about it openly. He should value his own brains more highly than he does. He should talk to Jim McMahon and see how well playing with concussions worked out for him. The guy doesn't even remember his Super Bowl year.

... you have the players doing everything they can to circumvent the system.

I wasn't aware that Manning was all players in the NFL.

posted by rcade at 02:40 PM on April 27

I'd just like to point out that the actual interview in question was an informal sit-down chat between Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, and ESPN writer (and known funny-man) Rick Reilly. For anyone with knowledge of Reilly's work (or even just from reading the original article) realizes that the chances of this being a serious answer to an open-ended question are very slim.

With that in mind, this reads more like a joke with a hidden grain of truth than a "whiny control freak" spouting off. As for making Manning look foolish, I suppose it could... but then again, context is everything. I know I've said and done things with my buddies and/or family members that might look or sound odd or are embarrassing from an outsider's perspective. But if said comment or action is prefaced the right way (which I believe this comment was), it's humorous.

posted by Goyoucolts at 03:10 PM on April 27

I wasn't aware that Manning was all players in the NFL.

He's not, but the story did have several links to articles about other players admitting to the same behavior. If many are talking about it, I think it's safe to assume that even more might be on to it. Odd that he would even consider talking about it openly, gives some credence to Goyoucolts' theory, if it wasn't for the other players also talking about it.

One would think this strategy would be easily detected, especially in a QB. The guy can remember a playbook full of plays, but does poorly on simple memory tests? Good to see that the NFL is upgrading their testing procedures.

posted by dviking at 03:30 PM on April 27

As for making Manning look foolish, I suppose it could... but then again, context is everything.

But there's more to context than an assumption that we're all chums and this is all a jest. Another part of context is that there is an incentive for players to try to circumvent safety rules, and still another part is the article that referenced one named player and multiple unnamed players as saying that they tank the baseline tests. And if you were just joking about taking headshots, this is a kind of weird joke to make.

If the statement is truthful, I think it does indeed make him look exceptionally foolish.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:40 PM on April 27

Even in the most jocular interview, the question "How do you feel about all the new research about concussions that's coming out?" doesn't lend itself to kidding around. The USA Today story claims other players claim to be doing the same thing.

posted by rcade at 03:45 PM on April 27

Good to see that the NFL is upgrading their testing procedures.

It sounds about as good as their drug testing procedures.

posted by grum@work at 04:10 PM on April 27

As for making Manning look foolish, I suppose it could

If you're predisposed to thinking he's foolish and Tom Brady is always the ice-in-his-veins consummate professional, it doesn't matter what they do. You'll find a way to tailor it to your existing opinion.

This answer came in an interview with a family that spent most of the time joking about who runs faster, how many wet willies were given, and how their mom was a #4 pick in the CFL draft. It's really hard to take it seriously, regardless of the phrasing of the question.

posted by Bernreuther at 04:10 PM on April 27

They don't need a written headshot test for Peyton. They can just go to the replays and look at his pre-snap hand signals and bark-outs to see how many imaginary aircraft he can launch from a carrier deck before the play clock runs out.

If he can only launch the equivalent of three aircraft instead of six or seven before getting hit with a delay of game, the team needs to pull him.

posted by beaverboard at 04:11 PM on April 27

the chances of this being a serious answer to an open-ended question are very slim

Do you think he is lying? That this is a joke answer? They are not making stuff up throughout the interview. They are telling funny stories (They are a very funny family, I must admit. Peyton\'s SNL appearance was head and shoulders above Brady\'s), but not, it seems, creating stuff out of whole cloth (aside from the obvious punchline about their Mom in the CFL). Frankly, the fact that this comes to mind when Peyton is sitting around shooting the shit seems somehow worse than if it were part of a serious interview.

posted by Rock Steady at 04:16 PM on April 27

What an idiot! It makes one almost hope he suffers a blow to the head, is cleared to play too soon because of his intentional failure of the test, and suffers severe after-effects because of it. I don't really feel that way, but my Judaeo-Christian ethic says that no one should profit by deception. Whether or not this was said in jest or Manning was serious, it is a dumb remark. It trivializes a serious problem in sports.

posted by Howard_T at 04:17 PM on April 27

I don't really feel that way, but my Judaeo-Christian ethic says that no one should profit by deception.

Not a fan of the play-action fake?

posted by grum@work at 04:22 PM on April 27

Once again evidence about how much the players are concerned about the safety of playing football.

Or, if you were griding the other side's axe, another example how much these players care about the game they love as opposed to your insistence they're only in it for the filthy lucre. I don't mind you being wrong on this subject, just be consistently so.

(and known funny-man) Rick Reilly

Maybe in your house.

posted by yerfatma at 04:27 PM on April 27

(and known funny-man) Rick Reilly

The last funny sportswriter, in my humble, was Hunter S. Thompson. Reilly, Kornheiser, Wilbon, Mariotti, et al. are simply painful to witness.

posted by afl-aba at 04:52 PM on April 27

yerfatma - I have never claimed that players only play for the money. I claimed that when it comes to the money they will use anything as ammo to justify the large amounts of it they are paid or to negotiate to get more. I believe they should get as much as they can. They play football because they can, they are great at it, the money is fantastic and they love it.

Love of the game is a big reason why they are good at it. My point was when the dangers of football are used in money negotiations by players who played the game for free for many years, and are willing to circumvent the rules created for their own protection, it merely lessens the credibility of their argument regarding safety issues. As this article points out, football players want to play, so much so that they routinely take extraordinary steps to be able to even when it means cheating to avoid having their playing time restricted. Please stop making them out to benevolent individuals sacrificing their lives for us the fans. Say that about soldiers that volunteer to go to combat for $2500 per month and the privilege of serving their country.

What do you get when you cross a great athlete professional football player with someone who has a huge sense of country, community service, selflessness, and a perspective that money is not everything? Pat Tillman

Big wave surfers, mountain climbers, race car drivers, base jumpers, police officers, coal miners, fire fighters and many others do high risk things they love to do for far less money than football players do, and some do it for nothing. NFL players deserve what they get. I just don't think they deserve to complain about it. I am only trying to separate the motivation for certain arguments in certain situations.

I have no problem with players fighting to make their sport safer, but using it as a sympathy argument in public negotiations may be a perfect tactic, but lets see it for what it is. The safety issues and money issues are really not related, because if they were, and the players were united, they would be fighting for mandatory compensation levels based on the dangers of a position or playing time, but they do not. It is all about getting as much of the pie as possible, and getting the ability to operate in the least restrictive free agent scenario possible. While that may be good for individual players interests, it may not be in the best interest of professional football long term.

posted by Atheist at 05:34 PM on April 27

If most players do this, it makes you wonder how bad the concussions are when the players do fail.

posted by drezdn at 05:53 PM on April 27

volunteer... for $2500 per month

I have mad respect for soldiers but this is a fundamental contradiction in terms.

posted by Hugh Janus at 06:53 PM on April 27

My point was when the dangers of football are used in money negotiations by players who played the game for free for many years, and are willing to circumvent the rules created for their own protection, it merely lessens the credibility of their argument regarding safety issues.

How? Do you really have any doubt of the safety issues? That NFL players are getting brain damage, that they are losing decades off of their lives? At best, that they have arthritis and hip and knee injuries that prevent them from having any sort of normal middle and old age? Don't they deserve to be paid more because of this?

And are you really surprised that insanely competitive players who regularly endure vast amounts of pain don't want to come out in the heat of the battle? Do we leave the decision up to the players? Or do we just develop a better test for determining concussions (and isn't that what Peyton, 2 steps ahead of us all, had in mind in the first place?)

posted by cjets at 07:06 PM on April 27

After reading the original play-by-play article I tend to now think that Peyton was being tongue in cheek about this. They were joking about almost everything else, so why should I believe that all of a sudden got serious?

That the other article that was the link for a while spoke of other players actually doing this, troubles me, and I do hope the league takes steps to ensure that players can't purposely fail the initial test just to skirt the later test.

posted by dviking at 10:03 PM on April 27

I have never claimed that players only play for the money.

Then what is your position exactly? I'd love to hear it positively stated. Because you seem to discuss your position as a sort of chiarascuro, where you tell us what you believe only by railing against that which you don't. It would be nice to see your true feelings pinned and wriggling on the wall so that we might finally discuss them instead of finding out what they are not after the fact.

players who played the game for free for many years

Do you honestly think this is a point? Everyone who plays a sport professionally played it for free beforehand. No one signs a kid at age 3 because he looks like he can pitch. You've brought this up a couple of times in the thread and it doesn't get any more impressive with the repeating.

many others do high risk things they love to do for far less money than football players do, and some do it for nothing.

BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO WATCH THEM. Yikes. Make sure to keep the sharp end of the knife pointed away from you.

posted by yerfatma at 10:36 PM on April 27

coal miners ... and many others do high risk things they love to do for far less money

Yes, for coal miners it's all about the love of descending into a filthy, sooty pit in the ground that could collapse or ignite. They just love doing that day after day after day.

posted by rocketman at 10:24 AM on April 28

Just to clarify for you yerfatma, I believe football as a career is a profession chosen and willingly pursued by talented individuals for a variety of personal reasons, with full knowledge of the risks and rewards of success and failure. The personal reasons can range from love of the game, desire for fame, potential wealth and a jump of to other careers like coaching, commentary etc. It is one of those professions with extreme risk reward value, similar to acting or other entertainment professions where the financial rewards are out of this world and the success rate is very low over all. Professions like that are typically pursued for the love of them more than for the money as the money is such a long shot.

I believe the NFL system of privately owned teams, and a league run by the owners has proven to be the best at marketing the game and creating the opportunities for players to excel and be paid as highly as they are. They certainly have the right to bargain for benefits, salary, and retirement as do any employees. I also think as privately held companies the team owners have the right to also organize and create wealth and stability in their business.

Basically I side with capitalism, the right for the owners to run their business as they see fit within the law. Whether or not it makes good business sense to make their employees partners is entirely up to them but I certainly understand their reluctance to allow transient employees to audit their books unless explicitly allowed by contract. If you pay a royalty, commission or have a revenue sharing agreement in place then typically there is an independent audit arrangement written to address disputes.

The CBA has expired, so IMO the owners should have the obligation to honor all in force contracts, to hire players at what ever salaries they deem appropriate and the players should have the right to shop their services as they wish, choose another profession or go to another league that may be paying more.

With regard to the collusion aspect. I see this as very difficult to define. The NFL is a league (or organization of individual co dependent businesses)> In order for the league to survive in a competitive fashion those businesses have to achieve some sort of mutual cooperation in order to function properly. So if they create rules that ensure everybody in the partnerships cooperation for an even playing field, you could label it collusion of sorts. If companies collude to reduce work place injuries or pollution is that illegal? Point being collusion as it applies to certain companies is a gray area and that is why lawyers will wrangle with these issues till we are all sick.

Both sides are fighting over money, nothing else. I tend to side with ownership as for me they are the ones invested in the long term viability and competitiveness of the league, which will in the long run be in the best interest of individuals seeking a career in professional footbal, or a related and dependent field.

If the player want to be part of a collective business, they should start their own league, run it as they see fit and compete with the NFL. Of course if they get together and discuss how to run their league, and hire players, they will have to collude to do it, and of course stop complaining about just how bad they have it. Like I said, if you look at the average salary and benefits in the NFL, the proof is in the pudding as to the opportunities the league has created. The players are just transient employees. If they demand too much they force the employer in other directions, if they get what they are asking for well then that is capitalism at its best. If the players get the owners to cough up more then obviously that is a business decision the owners get to make. The fact that the owners have dug in may just mean they are fighting to maintain an acceptable margin and believe it is important enough to risk a massive amount of revenue.

posted by Atheist at 12:45 PM on April 28

Basically I side with capitalism

But not free markets. That makes sense.

posted by yerfatma at 12:50 PM on April 28

It may not make sense to you but that is the way it is. Capitalism can exist with regulation, the NFL does have a regulated free market system. The players and owners do negotiate a CBA which addresses the free agency restrictions. When it is in effect they abide by it. Not it is expired and I am siding with the owners argument, they as the owners, risk takers, investors want more money off the top for investing in revenue growth (that they have agreed to allow the players to share in) and expenses, etc. That is probably in the best interest of future players but not necessarily in the best interest of current players, who in my opinion will loose more if there is a lockout or strike now then they can make up.

The owners seem to have a much longer term vision and incentive. Salary cap is a recognized and effective means to keep the league as a whole competitive, and viable into to long term future. The free in this free market system is that all of these player are completely free to seek employment elsewhere or start a team or league of their own.

FWIW taking snippets out of context and making snarky comments is really not that effective of a way to make a point IMO. What point are you trying to make? The players are gods who do no wrong and deserve to make most of the money and own the league? No thanks they have proven themselves collectively to be good at playing football not necessarily at running businesses.

posted by Atheist at 02:07 PM on April 28

The players are gods who do no wrong and deserve to make most of the money and own the league? No thanks

Responding to snippets is slightly more effective point-making than responding to words you've just put into others' mouths.

posted by Hugh Janus at 03:36 PM on April 28

The free in this free market system is that all of these player are completely free to seek employment elsewhere or start a team or league of their own.

This indicates that you don't know what a free market is. A free market doesn't mean that someone is free to change industries or change countries to stay employed. A free market means that individual entities in one industry compete against one another. That means they don't collude to depress wages or restrict trade. The NFL is comprised of separate, independent entities (teams) competing against one another. The Supreme Court has already ruled them separate entities and without MLB's broad antitrust exemption. The reason why the NFL is able to have these restraints on trade is because there is a collective bargaining agreement. That is why the NFL is so eager for the NFLPA to be a union, so they can behave in this way. The NFL cares about parity, and you can't have parity in a free market. It just doesn't happen.

posted by bperk at 04:22 PM on April 28

"The NFL cares about parity, and you can't have parity in a free market. It just doesn't happen."

bperk - Thanks for posting informative facts.

Yes and what the league is doing is trying to preserve their successful formula for parity which has all the independent team business in partnership with each other for the greater good. This I believe is in the best interest of the league long term which is also good for the players, and is especially good for the fans. Since the players are receiving 53% of the total revenue last time I heard, why would they object to the league setting aside more funds and taking steps to increase future revenue which the players share in?

Really it is about motivation. Sure greed motivates both sides but there is no doubt that the league has a longer term interest at stake while players have a more transient interest, by nature of their respective roles.

If the league is not generating the best opportunities for players, why don't the players start a new league and run it the way they want? Why not go to the CFL or the Arena League? The answer is clear, and that is the NFL is the best opportunity for them, and there is little doubt it is due to the way the league operates.

The NFL does not have a monopoly on the football market. College football has done a great job generating unbelievable business, they don't even have to pay the players, of course most of those players would not be able to get paid by any team. The NFL has had to compete against college football, CFL, USFL and Arena League football over the years, for fans and for players. They have done it effectively and to the benefit of every pro football player. How can their be a doubt about that. I think the players should try to get as much as they can, as should the league. If the league is willing to shut down the revenue machine or retool the business model with all that it is generating, I tend to think it is because the employee salary situation is pushing them toward a tipping point.

In the end they will work this out for one reason, they all have too much to loose. I like what the NFL has accomplished and I love their product. The product is more about parity and competitive football with the best talent money can buy, then it is about which players are on the field. As soon as someone puts a better football product together the NFL will fold, but I for one am not holding my breath, although some may consider the NCAA to be putting out a better product and frankly if the NFL were to shut down for a season the players will quickly find out they are replaceable as people turn their football attention to players in college. That means football on TV generating billions of dollars and no players getting paid cash.

posted by Atheist at 05:19 PM on April 28

bperk, you are correct in your basic descriptions of what a free market system is, but does this applies to the NFL? The Minnesota Vikings do not really compete against the Green Bay Packers as two independent entities. They compete as two intertwined entities that share common goals as well as independent goals. Capitalism to be sure, not quite free market.

As to the risk/reward discussion, without a doubt the players in the NFL endure a wide range of life altering injuries throughout their careers. They ought to be rewarded for this, and I think they are. Should the league do everything in their power to ensure the highest level of safety possible? Sure, but that has limits. Just as the owner of the coal mine can't eliminate every risk, the league/owners can't eliminate all risk without changing the game to the point that no one would watch. The players (some of them at least) contribute to this via illegal hits, playing through injuries, etc. So, the question is, do they deserve more money for it? I'd say, not really. They deserve to get every penny they can via their CBA, if they're unionized, or through free agency, if they're not unionized. They don't deserve a set amount more because they might get a concussion, that amount is built into what they earn now.

The make up of pro sports doesn't lend itself to easily classification in terms of a free market or not discussion. Probably why the lawyers enjoy such a payday off the leagues.

posted by dviking at 05:37 PM on April 28

the NFL does have a regulated free market system

No they do not. The history of sports ownership in this country is the history of owners trying to restrict what sections of the pie the players can even fight over. I'll never understand why people are willing to blindly accept "big business" = "capitalism". Big businesses employ lots of lawyers and lobbyists to do all they can to close free markets to make their own business more profitable. Which, while understandable, is neither capitalism nor free market activity. Whatever it is, I can assure you it wouldn't give Milton Friedman a stiffy. At least, no more than he already has.

To use an example in the NFL's favor, for perversity's sake, the league had to spend a good deal of time in front of Congress explaining why the NFL Network was not on basic cable. The free market/ capitalism answer to that should have been, "Because we don't want it to be. Good day." But it wasn't, because Comcast owns their local senator and he turned the whole thing into a shitshow. Rather than accepting the price the market would bear, Comcast tried to get around it by strong-arming the NFL through non-economic means.

When you read about how America's economy is better than China or India or whatever up-and-comer, remember that much of our advantage is our open and (arguably) fair court system. Suggesting we should toss that aside in favor of whatever Robber Barons care to do with their businesses since, "Hey, they own it" is a long step backwards.

posted by yerfatma at 05:54 PM on April 28

The NFL does not have a monopoly on the football market.

You're all over the map, Atheist, it's tough to really figure out where to start.

The NFL has a monopoly over the demand for players; you can't choose to stay in college past your eligibility and the CFL, USFL and Arena leagues are inferior products (based on their obscenely lower wage). Any economist (myself included) would say you're flawed in considering them alternatives because they aren't.

Put another way, the availability of a minimum wage job doesn't mean that the CEO's got options to bargain with when he gets to the salary negotiation table.

The product is more about parity and competitive football with the best talent money can buy, then it is about which players are on the field.

That is absolute bullshit. The best talent is the players. The MLB strike proved that the same owners and scab, crappy players produced a shitty product.

That means football on TV generating billions of dollars and no players getting paid cash.

Football on TV doesn't make the current NFL owners money. The owners may find themselves that they're also replaceable, if your NCAA/Arena/USFL/CFL fantasy comes true.

Football on the TV doesn't make Jerry Jones any money; NFL football does. That means football on TV generating billions of dollars and no NFL interests getting paid cash.

posted by dfleming at 06:06 PM on April 28

To use an example in the NFL's favor, for perversity's sake, the league had to spend a good deal of time in front of Congress explaining why the NFL Network was not on basic cable. The free market/ capitalism answer to that should have been, "Because we don't want it to be. Good day." But it wasn't, because Comcast owns their local senator and he turned the whole thing into a shitshow. Rather than accepting the price the market would bear, Comcast tried to get around it by strong-arming the NFL through non-economic means.

The only problem with this example is that Congress has given the NFL an antitrust exemption for broadcasting purposes, which allows the NFL to negotiate as a group instead of as additional teams. When Congress gives someone such a wonderful and profitable gift, they don't want them abusing it.

posted by bperk at 10:08 PM on April 28

The product is more about parity and competitive football with the best talent money can buy, then it is about which players are on the field.

Really?

Television ratings dropped 20% during the second week of the 1987 NFL strike (since the first week was cancelled outright).

Fans don't want to watch nameless players in uniforms. They want to watch star players perform.

It's why the top leagues in all sports (hockey, baseball, football, basketball, golf) all have higher attendance numbers than the minor league versions. The minors have the same level of parity and competitiveness with the best talent their money can buy, but much fewer people want to watch.

posted by grum@work at 11:58 PM on April 28

The New Yorker on the Labor Dispute.

posted by cjets at 12:09 AM on April 29

"Fans don't want to watch nameless players in uniforms. They want to watch star players perform. "

Nameless players become star players especially when the there is team parity. At every talent level some athletes step up and become the stars.

"It's why the top leagues in all sports (hockey, baseball, football, basketball, golf) all have higher attendance numbers than the minor league versions."

I am not prepared to quote attendance figures but to insinuate that amateur sports do not draw the same level attendance of professional level sports may be inaccurate. NCAA Football, and the bowl games, March Madness? NCAA division one football sells out the same size stadiums and is played with players who for the most part will never make an NFL team.

posted by Atheist at 10:42 AM on April 29

I am not prepared to quote attendance figures but to insinuate that amateur sports do not draw the same level attendance of professional level sports may be inaccurate.

Well, given he said "minor league", not "amateur", your NCAA comparison goes out the window. And that's not a perfect comparison anyway since fans have a built-in loyalty. But you're not seriously arguing that minor leagues have similar attendance, are you? You could try to trot out the argument that the entirety of minor league baseball has a similar attendance to the major leagues if we all ignore the order of magnitude difference in number of teams.

Point me at the nearest minor league baseball team with a 30,000 seat stadium.

posted by yerfatma at 10:52 AM on April 29

Is the discussion really about whether minor league teams draw as well as major league teams? Major league teams spend multiples of what minor league teams do on marketing, and then there is the stadium issue as well.

But, this discussion is about football, and the TV ratings from the second week of a strike season is hardly a good indication of how much interest fans had in watching football that year. We all knew the strike would end, so why get overly involved in that season? And, being only down 20% was far better than what anyone had expected. The point is, over time, some of those nameless players would have emerged as the stars, hell one guys that got a shot as a replacement player is still doing pretty well...John Carney, might have heard of him?

Since Division I football is essentially the minor league for the NFL, I think it is a relevant comparison. All sports teams have built in loyalty, I go to more St. Paul Saints' games than I do Twins/Rangers combined, so not sure why that disclaimer would be valid.

posted by dviking at 02:31 PM on April 29

Let me rephrase, since you are stuck on the semantics. NCAA football and basketball, have no trouble selling out stadiums and generating massive TV and merchandise revenue with a talent pool of players of which 90+% is not good enough to play professionally. If you had a minor league baseball team with a stadium the size of Dodger Stadium in a city like Los Angeles and ticket prices that undercut major league baseball substantially, with a good marketing plan, who's to say what you could draw. It would sure be an interesting experiment as I believe customers will pay more for better talent but would still enjoy the baseball just as much. Some might pay more for the superstars and more might enjoy lower cost live baseball content with watching the future stars or create their own stars.

The notion that the NFL product would be downgraded in the marketplace with the absence of the current crop of star players doesn't really translate that clearly. Look I love football and want to see the best, and I sincerely believe the NFL pays for the best and gets it. But if Peyton Manning retires tomorrow, the bottom line is another QB will be hired, Colts fans will still be interested, and as the league always has, it will survive the loss of any player or group of players as they will still succeed at putting the best football product in front of the fans. Unless of course you prefer NCAA football in which case, it just reinforces the argument that it is the game and the league, and the team loyalty that has been built up over generations, that creates the opportunity for the athletes to shine and be paid what they are worth. Star players are paid handsomely and always have been recognized for their contribution to the success of teams and the league, after all that is why they are getting more of the revenue pie than ownership, even ownership understands this. To suggest that the transient parade of players is why we watch, IMO is wrong.

I am sure the players think it is all about them after all they are the players, but the success of a league is really so much more than about the players. Why did the USFL fail, heck they signed some of the best and highest price players in the world, they were well funded, but what the NFL had was storied franchises, a fan or customer base, and a league history built up by ownership from nothing, over what took in some cases 4 generations.

That is the comparison between the investment ownership has in time and money over what a player with talent brings to the equation for a couple of seasons.

posted by Atheist at 02:46 PM on April 29

What does it take to develop a business over generations to reach the sales and revenue level of the NFL. - Some pretty rare and talented business visionaries, with a solid plan, massive investment , taking incredible risks and a lot of luck, and the ability to adjust to changing market environments.

What does it take to develop a career in professional football as a player. - Being genetically gifted, hard work, drive, commitment and a lot of luck, but most importantly a bunch of business men who through their long time efforts have created a venue for your talent and a way to generate the revenue so that they can afford to pay you millions, for a skill that has relatively little market value anywhere else. Unless you go to Canada or the Arena league.

So I suppose anybody can place their own importance on each aspect. I think a lot of people relate more to the players, or their efforts and talents are more in your face so to speak, but the trend to categorize the owners as a bunch of rich, greedy do nothing owners is probably not fair. Both are important. Both are entitled to share in the rewards.

If you want to say the NFL does not have competition for the athletic talent, the great athlete can usually pursue several sports as size, speed and athleticism translate to many other sports than just football. Athletes are free to pursue any sports career they want. I am not aware of one player that hasn't chosen football as a career knowing that his goal is the NFL as it exists today. There are other options. The fundamental difference is as a business owner you get to make as much as you can. As an employee you get to make as much as you can get someone to pay you.

As rare as it is to have what it takes to become a professional football player, I the the evidence clearly shows that is far more common than having what it takes to own a successful professional football team or NFL franchise.

posted by Atheist at 03:18 PM on April 29

Seriously - do you know any rich people? Most of them are not fucking visionaries and super savants the way you seem to describe it.

And you give them far too much credit for the success of the NFL.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:45 PM on April 29

What does it take to develop a business over generations to reach the sales and revenue level of the NFL. - Some pretty rare and talented business visionaries, with a solid plan, massive investment , taking incredible risks and a lot of luck, and the ability to adjust to changing market environments.

I'm starting to think you're not really an atheist.

The point is, over time, some of those nameless players would have emerged as the stars, hell one guys that got a shot as a replacement player is still doing pretty well...John Carney, might have heard of him?

Oh right, Ace Ventura. I've bought a lot of tickets precisely to watch that guy perform.

posted by tron7 at 05:58 PM on April 29

"Suggesting we should toss that aside in favor of whatever Robber Barons care to do with their businesses since, "Hey, they own it" is a long step backwards."

Suggesting the NFL team owners are being Robber Barrons is no different than suggesting the NFL players are modern day slaves.

There are modern laws and courts that will address the legality of the way the league operates as a legal business. In the end I believe the players will benefit from a system that keeps parity between teams and shares the TV revenue equally. If the system went 100% free agency it would only benefit the mega stars who play for the richest teams in the biggest markets. We can all watch the Jets, Giants, Cowboys and whatever team they rush into Los Angeles vie year in and year out for the Superbowl. How would an unrestricted free system benefit the game or the fans. Especially in cities like Green Bay, or Cleveland.

"Seriously - do you know any rich people? Most of them are not fucking visionaries and super savants the way you seem to describe it.

And you give them far too much credit for the success of the NFL. "

I know a lot of business owners and very few are what I would describe as rich, but most take full responsibility and credit for the success or failure of their businesses. I am not sure who else to give credit to, but if you reread my post I included luck as part of the success formula for both players and owners. Of course luck implies that somebody is taking a gamble which is accurate for both sides. When did it become fashionable in this country to chastise or punish success in business. I am sensing a resentment for those who succeed. Unless of course they are athletically talented.

posted by Atheist at 06:42 PM on April 29

I'm starting to think you're not really an atheist.

My guess is an Ayn Rand disciple (also a noted atheist) who believes that the NFL is run by 32 John Galts.

In the end I believe the players will benefit from a system that keeps parity between teams and shares the TV revenue equally. If the system went 100% free agency it would only benefit the mega stars who play for the richest teams in the biggest markets.

Is there anyone, Player or Owner arguing for 100% free agency without a salry cap or any restrictions? (It is a little ironic that this most USian of sport is successful because it works as a collective). The simple fact of the matter is that the owners want to decrease the size of the pie for the players. The players don't want to accept that rollback so they were locked out.

posted by cjets at 07:29 PM on April 29

My guess is an Ayn Rand disciple (also a noted atheist) who believes that the NFL is run by 32 John Galts.

Can you really be a John Galt if you got the ownership of the team from your parent or spouse? I would not regard Virginia Halas McCaskey, Mike Brown, Randy Lerner, Jim Irsay, Clark Hunt, John Mara, Dan Rooney or Denise DeBartolo York as self-made people.

posted by rcade at 09:23 PM on April 29

If the system went 100% free agency it would only benefit the mega stars who play for the richest teams in the biggest markets.

Actually, you couldn't be MORE wrong if you tried.

Back when the reserve clause was abolished in baseball, and the owners/union were trying to work out a collective bargaining agreement involving free agency. One of the owners, Charles Finley, proposed that all of the players be declared free agents at the same time. Marvin Miller, the union head, realized that it would be a disaster for the players. Instead, he proposed only players with 6 years of experience would be available for free agency when their contracts were up. The baseball owners (remember, these are the talented business visionaries, as they'd been running baseball for even longer than football had been around) jumped for Miller's proposal.

What Finley figured out (but the other owners couldn't) was that even superstar players would suffer under 100% free agency.

Why pay $15million/season for Brady, when Manning, Rogers, Vick, Breeze, etc. are all available? Why overspend for a player when there are 9 similar (or closely talented) players also on the market?

100% free agency would kill salaries because it would flood the market with so many players, the "supply" side of the economics would be more than the "demand". When you do that, prices drop. Fast.

posted by grum@work at 10:32 PM on April 29

I am sensing a resentment for those who succeed.

As rcade pointed out, a lot of those owners "succeeded" by being born or being married to the right person.

Success is usually lauded by most people. Turning around and then screwing over the very people that helped you succeed (either by laying them off, cutting their salaries, removing their benefits, or asking them to give them more money) is what tends to make people a little "resentful".

posted by grum@work at 10:36 PM on April 29

When did it become fashionable in this country to chastise or punish success in business. I am sensing a resentment for those who succeed. Unless of course they are athletically talented.

As the owner of two businesses, I'll assume you're talking to someone else.

posted by yerfatma at 10:00 AM on May 02

NCAA football and basketball, have no trouble selling out stadiums and generating massive TV and merchandise revenue with a talent pool of players of which 90+% is not good enough to play professionally

Your claim that ownership/ franchises are more important that the players is without merit or evidence. The NCAA comparison is a flawed one (but I'll come back to it in a minute); there are hundreds of professional soccer leagues around the planet, yet only a handful of them are truly popular: (someone correct me if I have this wrong) the EPL and La Liga are the top tier, with Germany, Italy and one or two others having international followings. You can go to any country in the world and find a Manchester United or Barcelona jersey. Why is that? Why would people forgo a league full of their countrymen, who look like them and speak the same language, to adjust dodgy antennas to tune in games from half a world away? I'd suggest it's because they're interested in seeing the best competition, which requires the best athletes.

The problem with your NCAA comparison is this: if it proved the point you're making, teams would be supported equally. Why does Alabama or Michigan get on TV so much more than my University of Rochester? Why are some of these teams supported by people who never went to the schools? Because they consistently field the best teams. College athletics represents an artificially-restricted market of athletics: you have to be college-aged (sort of) and college-eligible (sort of) and in this country we have a legacy of following college sports because that's where some of the sports (e.g., football) started and amateur athletics used to be an important distinction-- one used by the rich to keep the poor at bay.

posted by yerfatma at 11:05 AM on May 02

"As the owner of two businesses, I'll assume you're talking to someone else."

I'll assume as the owner of two businesses, you have not made your employees partners or opened your books to them. I will also assume you expect to be able to leave those businesses to your children or family and that in doing so you it not turn your children into evil robber barons, or expect they should be resented because they were born into it. It may even be possible that your children could learn the business and contribute to it's success or take it to an even higher level.

posted by Atheist at 11:27 AM on May 02

I'll assume as the owner of two businesses, you have not made your employees partners or opened your books to them.

You'd be wrong.

I will also assume you expect to be able to leave those businesses to your children or family and that in doing so you it not turn your children into evil robber barons, or expect they should be resented because they were born into it. It may even be possible that your children could learn the business and contribute to it's success or take it to an even higher level.

Glad to know someone still believes in the divine right of kings. Go America!

posted by yerfatma at 12:09 PM on May 02

Atheist: You should read about what Bill Gates is doing with most of his wealth, for fear of ruining his children. Passing down profligate wealth generation to generation is more likely to produce Paris Hiltons than Conrads.

posted by rcade at 12:53 PM on May 02

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