When the final whistle blows and a Super Bowl champ is crowned will the NFL’s players begin a new battle? Wai Sallas says they should, and they are missing out on the biggest reason why.
2014 will be remembered as the year cracks in the NFL shield became visible. In 2015, the NFL Player’s Association has the opportunity to take a hammer to those blemishes rather than assisting the owners in patching up its own mistakes.
In March, the NFLPA will select a new Executive Director. Former NFL standout Sean Gilbert wants the position and his first order of business is blowing up the current collective bargaining agreement from 2011’s work stoppage. The move, if successful could crumble the shield and change the league forever.
The NFLPA has more power than it has ever had. It also reigns in the court of public opinion where more and more owners are being exposed for unsettling decisions both in and out of the realm of football.
Here are just a few examples from last year:
- In January, Dan Snyder was the subject of a scathing expose on how he wrecked a park ranger’s career.
- In February, Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti attempts to cover up the Ray Rice incident. Gets his hands dirty in the process.
- In March, Jim Irsay had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his vehicle when he was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving.
The NFLPA has a chance to unleash a jack hammer in Gilbert.
The NFL is the most popular professional league in the country yet its players are grossly misrepresented. In August, Forbes listed the Top 10 Sports Endorsed Athletes, no NFL player made the list. In Forbes’ list of The World’s top 100 highest-paid athletes, 17 NFL athletes made the list, with Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan heading the list at 10. The top NFL endorser is Peyton Manning at $12 million, 26th on the list. Compare that with Tiger Woods who makes $55 million and LeBron James’ $53 million.
There is no other professional sport where the league limits revenue generating opportunities as much as the NFL. The league has sponsors from head phones and tablets to soup and pizza. If a player is caught consuming a competing brand, “The NFL has longstanding policies that prohibit branded exposure on-field or during interviews unless authorized by the league,” a league spokesperson said. In other words, eat the wrong pizza, fine. Wear the wrong headphones, fine. In San Francisco, 49ers are wearing Levi’s denim, the name of San Francisco’s state-of-the-art arena, Levi’s Stadium. Fashion statement or fine prevention? Last year the league made over $1 billion dollars in sponsorship revenue.
The NBA made $679 million in sponsorship revenue in 2013. James and Kobe Bryant are third and fifth respectively and both, individually, make more money in endorsements than all 17 NFL players on the list combined. James has sponsorship deals with McDonalds, Nike, Coca-Cola and owns a share of NFL sponsor enemy #1 Beats By Dre. Only McDonalds and Coca-Cola are league sponsors. All of Mannings’ endorsements are league-sanctioned.
Players continue to speak out against the NFL, particularly Roger Goodell, but it has yet to impact the owners wallet. As history proves, until it affects the bottom line owners will continue to turn a blind eye.
Gilbert has a 23-point platform dramatically shifting the balance of power from the owners to the players. None of which details the immense endorsement pool unavailable to NFL’s players. Will he achieve even half of the 23 items on his list? Probably not.
Does Gilbert have the votes to come into power, who knows?
The NFLPA can continue to speak out about the hypocrisy inside the league, or they can act on it.
The foundation is crumbling, will they hammer?
It starts in March.
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Photo Credit: AP Images/John Froschauer