When President Barack Obama recently answered a reporter’s question regarding the labor dispute between the NFL and its players’ union, most assumed that Obama’s words would be met with scorn and disapproval from the owners. Though some owners surely weren’t thrilled with the remarks, they’ve wisely said nothing. At least one player, however, has made his disagreement known with a portion of the remarks.
“You’ve got owners, most of whom are worth close to a billion dollars,” Obama said. “You’ve got players who are making millions of dollars. People are having to cut back, compromise and worry about making mortgage [payments]. . . . The two parties should be able to work it out without the President of the United States intervening. . . . [F]or an industry that’s making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way.”
Ravens center Matt Birk, in an appearance with our friends Steve Davis and Ed Norris of 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore, took issue with some of Obama’s words.
“He talked about the NFL being $9 billion, which is correct, but he kind of said it a little bit sarcastic,” the Harvard-educated Birk said, via the Baltimore Sun. (If he’d gone to Yale instead, perhaps he would have used the proper term, “sarcastically.” Sorry, Matt; we’re just being a little sarcastical.) “I mean, the U.S. government brings in a couple trillion [dollars], don’t you think they’d know how to balance the budget? . . . .
“And ‘millionaire players’ isn’t really correct. Most NFL players are not millionaires. They don’t make millions of dollars. But that’s OK. You know what, that kind of right there is the general feeling. . . . Billionaires and millionaires and nobody really cares about their problems. ‘Work it out.’”
Whether its billionaires and millionaires or billionaires and guys-who-make-$500,000-per-year, everyone involved in a fight that threatens to take away the current national pastime is making a lot more money than 99 percent of the people who follow the sport. Thus, most fans can’t relate to the idea of making so much money that the two sides can’t figure out how to carve it up in a fair way.
Five days from now, we’ll all know whether they’ve avoided the embarrassment of failing to share fairly their embarrassment of riches.