Miami New Times.This week, Luke advises professional 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 on 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 now NFL stars could field opposing teams that would play against one another at a new, no-frills football stadium inside Tropical Park financed with the players' money. 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 television contract and all of their multimillion-dollar stadium endorsement deals. That won''t be worth anything when there are no athletes sprinting up and down the field. I guarantee when those same 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.
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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. Professional 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 Emilio and Gloria Estefan or Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony as partners.
Football fans are not buying tickets because they want to see the superstar minority owners lounging inside a corporate suite. Fans don't care about who is eating caviar in the luxury box. We want to see the superstar players, a majority who are African-Americans and who have made enough money to be the ones calling the shots.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.