MARTY RUSSELL: A summer of pigskin, pigheadedness

By Marty Russell

Thank goodness that’s over with. It came right down to the wire and, if not resolved, could have put us all in jeopardy of spending the next six months or so listening to even more partisan bickering and would definitely have ruined the holiday season.
The looming government default? No. Everybody already knew the outcome of that. Neither party wanted to risk being the one that said no just in case all the doom-and-gloom scenarios came to fruition and little grannies started dropping dead from starvation because they didn’t get their Social Security checks. And with the presidential election coming up neither side wanted to have to campaign against someone whose slogan is, “Make me your commander in chief and you might just get paid for being shot at.”
No, I’m talking about something of real importance here, at least to that half of the population with a Y chromosome. The resolution of the NFL lockout. In case you haven’t been keeping up or got confused over the similarities between the football fracas and the one in Washington, the team owners were threatening a lockout and no games this season over a proposal to cut, cap and balance spending on players.
Specifically, the owners wanted to add an additional game to the schedule without increasing player income, sort of like some in Congress who didn’t want to have to make cuts in the roster of government programs but didn’t want to raise taxes either. In other words, something for nothing.
Healthcare was also an issue in the football negotiations. Players argued that adding a game to the schedule would increase their risk of injury while the league was not proposing any changes in its healthcare benefits for players. In other words, putting the players at greater risk while essentially cutting their medical benefits by holding them at current levels. Sort of like asking granny to just hang in there even though we’re going to slash your Medicare benefits.
Then there was the threat to the economy. If the football season had been canceled the team owners wouldn’t have minded because they get paid the television revenues regardless of whether any games are played or not. They would actually make more money if they did default on the season. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that the cities where the games are played would have lost about $160 million in revenues and an estimated 115,000 people would be laid off.
Sort of like those in Congress pushing for default. While soldiers, the elderly and the poor might have suffered, they’d still get paid. So what’s the problem?
Luckily, the players and the team owners were able to work out an agreement and football will go on with the loss of only one preseason game. Thank God. It’ll be a welcome relief to see two teams competing for sport and not for power for a change.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@olemiss.edu.