In the classic film My Cousin Vinny, the lead character is surprised to learn that, in order to get a look at the prosecution’s files in a murder case that threatens to barbecue two young men, all Vinny needed to do was ask.
For the NFLPA, it’s not quite that easy.
The union has been asking and asking and asking (and asking) for a look at the financial records of the 31 NFL teams not already required by law to disclose such information. (The Packers make that information available, because they are a publicly-owned company.)
And NFLPA president Kevin Mawae told Sirius NFL Radio on Thursday that the union’s recent visit to Congress included an effort to persuade federal lawmakers to force the NFL to make its financial information available, given the antitrust exemptions that the NFL enjoys.
“Our point is: if you’re going to give them the exemption like you do others who have to show their finances, then help us out by having the NFL show us their finances so that we can make better decisions regarding our Collective Bargaining Agreement,” Mawae told Adam Schein and Solomon Wilcots of The Sirius Blitz. ” And we just wanted to lobby them and let them know that we want to get a job done. We’re not calling for a strike or anything but it looks like we’re headed for a lockout because, right as it stands, the owners, they opted out and they have yet to give us any substantial reasons why or even headway into the CBA negotiations.”
In other words, the current negotiations between the NFL and the union look a lot like the scene where the Simpson kids repeatedly say “please, Dad” to Homer, who continuously says “no” in response.
And going to Congress is the equivalent of Bart and Lisa asking Marge instead . . . or doing something zany like putting a “roofie” in Homer’s 20th Saturday morning beer.
Basically, these labor talks are going to go nowhere if the union won’t quit asking for something they’re never going to get. Getting Congress involved isn’t the answer, either. Does NFLPA Executive Director De Smith think that the legislators will drop everything they’re otherwise doing and pass emergency legislation requiring the NFL to open its books to the union?
We’re not saying that such a tweak to the antitrust laws will never come, but we can’t imagine it happening in time to help forge a deal before the start of the 2010 league year.
Meanwhile, the union is continuing to pander to the average folks who’ll lose paychecks if NFL games aren’t played in 2011.
“The biggest message we wanted to get across to members of Congress was that, here we are and we want to dispel the myth that we’re a bunch of millionaires fighting with a bunch of billionaires, because the reality of it is is that there’s a lot more people that are going to be hurt by the possibility of a lockout than just the players,” Mawae said. “There are concession workers, the people who work in the stadiums, and then from the local government standpoint, you’ve got to think about the stadiums.”
That said, does anyone really think that these millionaire players truly care about the concession workers? The reality is that the millionaire players know that the general public (and Congress) won’t get worked up about two fat guys fighting over a piece of pizza. So the union needs to try to get the average person worked up about the fact that the inability of said two fat guys to find a way to share the slice of pie is the fault of the other fat guy.
Enter the concessions workers, who are the skinny kids in the corner watching the Belushi brothers duke it out.
So we hope that the average person is smart enough to see through that one.
Regardless, we think that both sides need to find a way to be fair, and that the long-term interests of the sport aren’t served by the tactics that De Smith, a career trial lawyer, is trying to apply beyond the walls of a courtroom.