The NFL lockout has been dubbed “billionaires vs. millionaires.” Let’s be clear about one thing: There are very few players that are millionaires in the NFL. The vast majority of NFL players are far from millionaires. They also have short careers, a high risk of injury, and shorter lifespans than the average male. Most have to find other jobs when their playing days end. Some become disabled due to NFL-based health problems and can’t work. So, the “billionaires vs. millionaires” label simply isn’t accurate.
But in the sense that the label conveys a battle of greed in the NFL lockout mess, it is accurate.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the owners and players almost total disregard for the health benefits of former NFL players. Both sides want more money now. There’s no long-term thinking or empathy for former players who are struggling with the effects of injuries suffered as NFL players. Today, former players lose health benefits five years after their playing careers are done — and that’s only if a player has three years of service in the league.
Evan Weiner does a nice job describing the “money-now-at-all-costs” mindset of both owners and players in the current labor dispute.
“NFL owners and players go to court on June 3 to argue over whatever they are fighting for,” says Weiner. “Collective bargaining agreement negotiations pick up on June 8. The players want status quo and to keep 59 percent of football revenues, the owners want the players to give back revenues, cut their salaries (contracts are not guaranteed) and help build stadiums in Minnesota and Santa Clara, California by kicking in part of their revenues. Meanwhile, former players are still out in the cold with meager pensions and no health benefits and for many football players, getting health insurance is almost impossible because of pre-existing conditions.”
The owners should be filled with shame regarding the minimal health benefits and tiny pensions of former players. But the players are culpable too. In the NFL labor disputes dating to 1982, the players have done a poor job fighting for better treatment of former players.
“The ‘Money Now’ mantra of the players should have been replaced by ‘what will your life at the age of 45, 50, 55 and 60 be like?'” says Weiner.
When the owners and players get back to the bargaining table, you can be sure the arguments from both sides will be all about getting more money now. Old NFL stars struggling with chronic disabilities from concussions and other injuries suffered while playing in the NFL will be but a distant afterthought.
That’s a shame.
— Ken Reed, Director & Senior Analyst, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
Listen on Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor and others.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
More Episodes on Apple Podcasts; Spotify; Google Podcasts; PocketCasts; & Anchor
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon