Hunter Hillenmeyer Talks About the Lockout
Posted: 28 March 2011 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Fascinating read.

As a history lesson, and hopefully ultimately to point out how our fight is different, let’s look at some similarities and differences between the NHL lockout and the one currently facing the NFL.

Let’s start with the obvious: both lockouts were executed under the eye of outside counsel union-breaker Bob Batterman.

It should come as no surprise then, that both lockouts started in a similar fashion: The NFLPA and the NHLPA were both targets of lawsuits filed by their respective owners with the National Labor Relations Board for a failure to negotiate in good faith.

The NHL suit went in favor of the players. I would expect the same to happen in our case, given that I sat in the room participating in the painstaking negotiations and saw the multiple proposals we made in a long and drawn out attempt to come to a resolution on our differences.

This is about where the similarities end, and that has to be a good thing for players and fans.  I say that because the NHL story ends like this: The first completely missed season by a professional sports league in North America; NHL players forced to take a deal that was even worse than the last offer on the table from ownership before the lockout began; and owners who suffered from half a decade of slumping ticket sales and viewership in the wake of their work stoppage.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Hunter wrote an exceptional column.

Thanks for posting this thread.

Of course Hunter does not really mention the decertification process that occurred before the official lockout.

I guess we can call it kinetic union action (let’s shorten that to KUA)

Unfortunately for the NHLPA, they did not consider KUA and as a result were KIA before Chaptered 13 and thus accepted a less than appropriate CBA for the NHLPA.

Hunter writes “we” a lot. Except there is no longer “we”. It is “them”. He was cut by the Bears. Hmmm....

Maybe he worked on this before being cut. Who knows.

But it is a good read. DeMaurice should keep him around. He’s a bright guy.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Mariotti Jr - 28 March 2011 04:11 PM

Hunter wrote an exceptional column.

Thanks for posting this thread.

Of course Hunter does not really mention the decertification process that occurred before the official lockout.

I guess we can call it kinetic union action (let’s shorten that to KUA)

Unfortunately for the NHLPA, they did not consider KUA and as a result were KIA before Chaptered 13 and thus accepted a less than appropriate CBA for the NHLPA.

Hunter writes “we” a lot. Except there is no longer “we”. It is “them”. He was cut by the Bears. Hmmm....

Maybe he worked on this before being cut. Who knows.

But it is a good read. DeMaurice should keep him around. He’s a bright guy.

Mariotti, you obviously recognize that decertification had to happen the way it did in order to protect the players.  Had they not decertified prior to the lock-out, it is my understanding they would not have been able to decertify.  The decertification process gives the players more options in negotiation with the owners.

IMO this whole lockout is a total power play on the part of the owners.  As HH said in the article, almost every team could be sold for $1 billion with owners making significant profit.  Second I had no idea about the television ratings.  That alone will bring in tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars the next contract.  It’s no wonder the owners want more games and more off night (non-sunday) games.

Without trying to be racist here, I think the owners have a plantation mentality (unfortunately our history of slavery only involves people of color).  They know they have a viable business that maintains itself even as the “stars” leave the game. Players are expendable.  To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, we root for jerseys.  Look at Green Bay.  They cut, trade, allow to retire, don’t give a crap about Brett Favre and within four years they have a Super Bowl championship.  Minnesota hated Favre for years and for the last two, they have cheered their hearts out for him.  Hell Dennis Rodman became a hero in Chicago.  So, other than out of magnanimity, why should the owners give a crap about the players and what they want or need.

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Posted: 28 March 2011 08:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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The decertification of the NFLPA accomplishes one singular purpose - for the individual players listed on the lawsuit (Brees, Manning and others) to sue the NFL and take certain aspects of the CBA negotiations into court rather than to a negotiating table.

The NFLPA certainly did not have to decertify. Of course, the NFL owners certainly did not have to opt a CBA that was profitable for everyone. These were choices. These were calculated. And neither decision certainly had anything to do with the game of football or the fans that love football. These were decisions simply based upon one factor - money. And it is a tug of war of dividing the profits between a group of billionaires vs a group of millionaires (and yes the poor unfortunate that only earn several hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Mind you, this is just a business guised as “sport”. At the heart, it is only an entertainment industry as pro sports gave up something in the spirit of competition a long time ago. Perhaps it never existed in the first place. Who knows. And the average fan certainly doesn’t care anyway.

Ironically, the business of football was not so jaded. It was understood by a few in ownership and a few representing the players, that a partnership was necessary to elevate the game to everyone’s best interests. The Giants ownership in particular is recognized for giving up self-gain for the betterment of the teams. There was a time not that long ago when pro football was more of an oddity than a national obsession. Compared to sports such as the World Series or even the Stanley Cup Finals, the Super Bowl was once an afterthought.

Perhaps without even realizing it, the NFL empire might be collapsing akin to the Romans. I sympathize neither conflicted party involved in this labor matter. I don’t buy the owners argument that a CBA at this junction was necessary to re-negotiate. Neither do I buy into the myth of the “we are slaves” mentality. This is not a matter of freedom. It is employment. Corporations hire and fire all the time. Corporations downsize. Corporations take away job benefits. The difference is the average income earner in this country draws next to nothing compared to the average professional athlete. Earning years? I respect the guy more that shells out 30-40 years of work. The pro athlete that manages finances properly should be retired comfortably at an earlier age. Yes, the physical toll is costly. But tell that to a fireman. Or a police officer. Or a coal miner. And of course, a US soldier.

As stated earlier, I do concede that a football pro contract should be worth what is committed to paper. This should be non-negotiable. But until players actually learn to use their own calculator versus listening verbatim to self-serving over glorified “agent” (aka pimp) I’m afraid 20 something year old athletes will continue to stoke their egos with imaginary multimillion dollar amounts on paper worth only a fraction in the fine print. Perhaps a little less time boozing, blinging and screwing gold diggers would be of benefit. Until these guys learn to manage their own personal finances, there is no chance in hell for the oft-mentioned pipe dream of player-ownership football league. It takes ability beyond an inheritance to properly manage the day to day operations of a pro football team. Some such as the Patriots excel quite well. While others such as the Raiders (and yes the Bears) are equally known for their fuckups as they are for the glory yesterdays.

In the end, this is just business. Only fans are hung up on the “sport”. And that is too bad. Because the real collective bargaining power resides to the customer. And the customer in this matter is far to eager, to hungry, and to forgiving, to get her and his football fix. It is a powerful addiction. And until the cash register till is less than full will either side truly comprehend how these negotiations are killing the collective golden egg.

Fuck the NFL. And fuck the former NFLPA.

PS - Hunter still wrote a good column.

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