Fuck you NFLPA!

Jesus Christ! This is a harrowing read, and nothing short of a crime. I’ve heard some of these stories, of course, but this article is the first I’ve ever seen tying it all together.

Casualties of the NFL

You have just touched upon the only use that I have for unions, and remarkably enough they are totally useless in this case. Then again, Gene Upshaw has one thing in mind when he gets down to business, and that is Gene Upshaw.

How in the hell do team doctors keep their licenses with these kinds of practices? Why the hell would an ethical medical professional be complicit in this? And if they’re acting unethically why isn’t every one of these guys retiring off the proceeds from a malpractice suit?

Seriously, what the fuck?


I have a feeling this is going to boil over pretty soon. I remember seeing a piece on Outside the Lines about a year ago and they described Joe DeLamielleure’s struggles with the NFLPA. I also remember hearing Ditka talk (and yell, and spit) about it on some pre-game shows recently. It’s getting attention and picking up steam. Well, it should…

We have Barry Bonds indicted for perjury, facing possible time in prison, because he said he didn’t knowingly take steroids. Then we have Gene Upshaw, living the good life, doing nothing but watching people he’s charged with protecting die young, penniless, and in severe pain. I don’t get it. We have a justice department that hunts a guy down for four years, who’s hurt no one, then this piece of dogshit (Upshaw) is completely ignored. For some reason, I get a really strong Isiah Thomas vibe after reading about Upshaw’s antics.

The article also brings to light something I kinda already knew: New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is a total dickhead.

I’m wondering if this pattern of injury is present in high school football.

Despite problems like this in professional football, they’re adults and can do what they want. But I’ve always wondered why we let high school kids, who are sometimes as big as the pros, participate in a sport like this.

I’ve always assumed it’s because there is less chance of injury* than at the higher levels of the game. Is this an incorrect assumption?

*Soccer has the highest rate of injury, but those injuries tend to be broken ankles and such. And soccer doesn’t have crushing body contact as a basic fundamental of the game.

There are a bunch of shitty things about this:

  1. Retirees can’t vote for NFLPA president, only active players, and Upshaw has as much as said, “fuck the retirees because I’m not beholden to them” on a couple of occasions.

  2. Even if the NFLPA did care about its retirees, there’s essentially a two-tiered system because any revenue sharing between owners and players would then be split amongst retirees as well- so less of every dollar would go into the active players’ pockets, and how many 20-somethings in ANY business do you know that think that they aren’t immortal? That could NEVER happen to them.

  3. Even if the union cared about its retirees AND there were a way around the two-tiered system, the NFLPA is the weakest union in sports (I don’t want to say anywhere, but it’s close). The union was absolutely broken in the last strike- the NFLPA’s ability to mount an effective labor action is negligible if not nonexistent.
    All this assumes, of course, that the NFLPA wasn’t in bed with the league, that the players themselves were not controlled by endorsement dollars, agents, and a host of other influences, and that both the league and the union were not benefited by keeping the players that way. Which, of course, can’t be assumed because that’s the way it is.

I’m against federal oversight of labor unions, but if the government devoted the same resources that it did to prosecuting a perfectly healthy Barry Bonds to taking care of players who got beat up just by following the rules, there’d be a whole lot less of this.

–And yes, you can choose not to play, and yes, you can choose to hold yourself out- but in a league with nonguaranteed money (where a 5 million dollar contract gets torn up the instant you get cut), in a league where performance bonuses make up the bulk of your contract, in a league where your starting job is gone in one week (and your place on the team is gone the next if your cap number is too big), NOBODY in their right mind is going to choose not to play.

Hell, I play an amateur sport- I PAY to play my sport, and I’ve gone out there in insulin shock, dangerously dehydrated, malnourished, sick, injured, you name it. I don’t want to lose my job, but more than that- I want to PLAY. And those twin desires are exploited by both the league AND the union that’s supposed to be watching out for the players.

A bigger paycheck is NOT the only function of a union.

A lot of these injuries are not very bad if it would happen only once or twice over a couple of decades. IANAD, nor team trainer, but it seems to me that the repetitive nature of the vast majority of these injuries over the short period of time (what, five years for most of these guys who never get remembered past the day they get out of the league) makes it much worse ten to twenty years down the line.

Reminds me of one of my favorite Simpsons’ quote.