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Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke advises pro football players to form their own league.
When Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson likened the National Football League to "modern-day slavery," he was just venting his frustration at the lack of respect team owners have for their most important employees. The young man sees the owners' refusal to open up their financial books as a slap in the face. I agree. But unlike slaves, Peterson and his football brethren have amassed enough wealth to mount a revolt by starting their own league.
By now, NFL athletes should have enough money to bankroll their own teams. What the fuck do they need the owners for? Set up everybody in a top-tier group health insurance plan, pay for sports trainers and other medical staff, and buy some jerseys, pads, and helmets. All you have to do is change the uniforms and the team names. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and the rest of the players suing the NFL owners would be better served investing their time and money cutting their own $9 billion deal with a couple of television networks. Call up NBC and TNT. The honchos at those two networks would cut that deal in a heartbeat.
All the former Miami Hurricanes who are NFL stars could field opposing teams that would play at a new football stadium inside Tropical Park, financed by the players. Every game would be a guaranteed sellout. The ticket prices would come down. Blue-collar families could once again afford to buy seats.
Let the NFL owners be greedy. Let them lock out the players. Let them keep their $9 billion TV contract and multimillion-dollar stadium endorsement deals. That won't be worth anything when there are no athletes on the field. I guarantee when those owners need a team to fill up their stadium, they will come crawling to the player-owned teams. Shit, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who tried to play hardball with the players' union, will be the first one to let a team owned by players use his stadium. At the end of the day, he still needs to pay his bills.
Athlete-controlled teams would also bring some real minority ownership to professional football, where the good-old-boy network is still in charge. That has to come to an end. Pro football is the only sport where it is almost impossible to have an ethnic minority as a majority owner. You won't have teams fronting minority inclusion by bringing in Gloria and Emilio Estefan or Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony as partners. Football fans don't buy tickets because they want to see the superstar minority owners lounging inside a corporate suite. We want to see the superstar players, a majority who are African-Americans who have made enough money to be the ones calling the shots.