Owners exposed when forced into public spotlight

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 26, 2011 - 9:45 PM

NFL players are winning the battles, both in court and in the court of public opinion.

Tuesday, after hearing that the league's lockout had been lifted by a federal court in Minneapolis, some NFL players showed up for work.

They were politely turned away.

Imagine the inevitable escalation. Next time the players show up, they will be targeted by poison-tipped arrows and Kenny G CDs. The time after that, they will be scalded by vats of boiling oil and invited to listen to Zygi Wilf recite the Gettysburg Address. Where will man's inhumanity to man end?

Actually, in the court of public opinion, this battle should already be over. The NFL players -- a loose-knit and sometimes dysfunctional group of young men with short-term careers, frequent head trauma and a history of losing that would make the Timberwolves blush -- have whipped the owners the way viral infections whip Joe Mauer.

We all know that the players who reported to work on Tuesday did so for strategic and symbolic reasons. If NFL teams allowed them to meet with coaches or work out, that would provide evidence that the lockout had ended. If NFL teams turned away players, then the owners would look even more petty and imbecilic than usual.

Because we knew this, it is logical to assume that owners knew this. And yet they allowed themselves to be hustled, proving that billionaire owners of sports teams are rarely as savvy as their portfolios would lead you to believe.

Taking the players' side in this dispute is rough. It puts me on the same side as Drew Rosenhaus' smirk, Brandon Marshall's rap sheet, Jay Cutler's sneer and DeMaurice Smith's hat, which I hope came with a really good bowl of soup.

There's not much of a choice, though. You can either side with the players, who are willing to work, and work under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement that made the owners lots of money, or you can side with the owners, who have shut down a game at the height of its popularity so they can afford plutonium countertops on their ninth yachts.

On one side, you have elite athletes who are the faces of their franchises and risk lobe and limb for our entertainment.

On the other side, you have billionaires unsatisfied with massive profits aided by publicly-funded stadiums.

Tuesday morning, Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson tried to enter the team facility to use the cold tub to help him recover from workouts he is undergoing so he can attempt to win games this fall. Tuesday afternoon, the Vikings continued their lobbying efforts to procure a half-billion or more in taxpayer money to build a stadium that would make Wilf even richer.

I'm in favor of a new stadium for the Vikings. I am not in favor of approving one while the owners who would benefit from it are threatening to cancel the 2011 season out of sheer greed.

Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, shouldn't be trusted. He is using this high-profile and highly litigious conflict to raise his personal stock and profile.

You don't have to trust him, though, to agree with him. On ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" radio show, Smith said: "To be in a state where the National Football League is allowing this kind of chaos to occur, I'm not sure it's a great day for football. ... And we're in a world where the owners of the National Football League opted out of a contract that was fine. They went to the Supreme Court to try to stick it to the players and they lost. They tried to keep revenue sharing from happening in 2010 and they lost. A judge ruled that they gamed the TV contracts to lock the players out and they lost. And then they lock the players out and took football from our fans, and yesterday they lost."

Every word of that is true.

The problem with sports owners is, like the Timberwolves' Glen Taylor, they are forced to transition from shadowy worlds where their ruthlessness and back-room calculations gain them competitive advantages, to a world of bright lights and iridescent scoreboards where they are forced to compete with men of similar wealth and cunning.

To get ahead in this public world, they can't undercut their fellow owners. They eagerly settled for undercutting their own players.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2:40 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is Souhanstrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 4th Qtr 2:36
Indiana 87
Portland 106 4th Qtr 2:04
Sacramento 97
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 88 4th Qtr 9:38
LA Lakers 78
New Orleans 14 1st Qtr 4:11
Denver 10
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 11:04
Washington 2
Anaheim 0 1st Prd 13:28
Dallas 0
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 63 2nd Half 1:00
Wake Forest 64
Oregon 46 2nd Half 13:22
Stanford 47
Purdue 35 2nd Half
Ohio State 23
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Washington St 8:30 PM
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question