As Wall Street firms toss bonuses to their employees, so does the NFL in similar fashion award enormous signing bonuses and contracts to big talent players. Just the other day, the NFL announced they’d be giving Michael Vick a $100 million contract to stay on as Eagles QB.
A day before this was announced, there came a different sort of event: The AFL-CIO had just welcomed the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) into its loving embrace. The NFL players’ union has joined the AFL-CIO. Why now, one might well ask.
In what way do the interests of a group of seasonal workers — many of whom are multimillionaires — dovetail with the interests of the regular workers who make up the rest of the union? It’s a reasonable question.
We do understand that the players union includes not only the millionaire brats and the quarterback divas, it also includes those earning far, far less; and it is a large group of people for whom permanent disability is a significant risk.
But today the NFL just announced it has agreed to pay Michael Vick $100 million. Why does he need union representation — and why is he in one at all, when his employment situation is so many light years away from that of the rank-and-file worker?
Consider what it means. The largest union in America has just annexed a whole bunch of rich people. Those rich people, the star players, make their big money from labor negotiations. Some rich people actually will have to care about how labor gets treated!
Furthermore, Rachel Maddow made clear on her show a week or so ago how Labor and the Democratic Party rise together — when they rise, that is. Historically, the growth of Democratic power was because Labor supported it wholeheartedly; and Labor did well when the Democratic Party was able to carry out its platforms.
So now there’s some important movement occurring. Does this have something to do with superPACs? Are the football players going to help save labor? If so, this may be a really good deal for us. The position of the middle class working person is precarious in every way, and he needs the help of somebody strong. Not necessarily physically strong, but why not?
The strength of NFL players could be symbolic. Think about it.
If some big NFL players were to show up to support another workers’ group demonstration or strike, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have the cameras see on our side. Picture it: Tired, striking health care workers (for example), standing in the rain with their picket signs, shuffling back and forth in front of the hospital entrance, … and suddenly a column of enormous athletes in jerseys marches up and they arrange themselves behind the strikers, and stand there with their enormous arms folded across their chests… just like in Revenge of the Nerds, when the older (and athletic, and black) Tri-Lambs show up to support their scrawny nerd brothers! What a day that would be!
When the 2012 presidential campaign begins in earnest, will our big strong brothers (Brothers in Labor!) be around to show support for the working man, giving a much-needed boost to the party trying to fight the Big Banks, the Wall Street firms, the Phil Gramms, the Koch brothers, and all the super-rich who hate ordinary people?
If so, that’s when I’d start idolizing football players.