Who Has The Best Interests Of The Game At Heart?

I'm not big on pointing out mistakes in other columns, but Tom Oates at Madison.com lost me in an article titled "NFL owners lesser of two evils":

Retired Packers president Bob Harlan always said the two most important things for the team's ability to survive were the salary cap and revenue sharing. Indeed, it is those things that give the Packers the same chance of winning the Super Bowl as the mega-market New York Giants.

The same can't be said in other sports. Does anyone really think the Milwaukee Brewers have the same chance of winning the World Series as the Yankees?

The courts are unpredictable and there are no guarantees that they or the players will see the big picture regarding parity and the league's success. The owners have demonstrated that they understand that concept, which is why Packers fans should pull for them, however grudgingly.

So he "grudgingly" supports the owners because they know what works best: "the salary cap and revenue sharing."

Except Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder want to do away with the salary cap and revenue sharing.

As the NY Times pointed out, the first issue in the labor battle is what percentage of revenue should go to the players, and the second issue is "how the owners will divide their share of $8 billion in annual revenue." The first issue is getting all the headlines as the players and owners battle in public, but the second one is all done behind closed doors. From the NY Times:

The N.F.L. also harnessed television wisely. In 1961, teams agreed to divide television revenue equally and began selling league rights as a package. Green Bay, with a tiny television market, took in as much as the Bears in Chicago. When merchandising and corporate sponsorships began pumping money into sports, the N.F.L. also split that income equally. By contrast, the bulk of baseball’s television revenue is locally derived, and team revenues are disparate.

Buffalo Rumblings has a post from 2007 about revenue sharing, and unfortunately former Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt is no longer with us to remind the owners that this helped make the NFL a success. Revenue sharing began back when the players had no clout, and I don't know how they could force the owners to share revenue anyway. That seems like an issue for the owners to tackle alone.

The owners don't own any ideological high ground here. Jones and Snyder would end the salary cap and revenue sharing tomorrow if they could, and they'd take a short-term payday now even if it could harm the NFL over time.

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