Shutdown Corner - NFL

It's certainly not uncommon for businesses feeling the pinch in this economy to cut employee salaries when the need arises. But when the financial pinch is essentially self-imposed, it's a bit tougher to feel for the people making the decisions. That's the case with the Miami Dolphins, whose CEO Mike Dee announced to staff on Tuesday that any staff member making more than $75,000 will see a pay cut of 20 percent, employees making below $75,000 will see a 15 percent hit, and those making under $50,000 will see a salary reduction of 10 percent.

Dee reportedly said during the meeting informing the employees of the pay cuts that declining revenues tied specifically to the lockout were cited as the main reason, and that salaries will be brought back to normal once the lockout is over. It's possible that the team's average on-field performance could be another issue, and the tough economy could very well be another. But since the Dolphins decided to blame this on the lockout exclusively, according to a report by Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald, it's much easier to call the team's ownership and corporate leadership on the carpet and say that the reasoning is flat-out ludicrous.

First of all, it was the owners who locked the players out — so blame for any financial shortfall must bounce back to them. Second, this is 1/32 of the same ownership group that tried to create a $4 billion escrow windfall by strong-arming several television networks into paying their side the full balance of TV contract money whether games were played or not. Eventually, a ruling was brought against them for that move in the court of Judge David Doty, and Doty will soon rule on the amount of damages due the players. Third, the organization's assertion that it is a private company and thus exempt from having to explain itself in situations like these falls afoul of the "open the books" edict that the NFLPA has insisted all along could put this labor unrest to bed.

In Forbes' most recent NFL franchise valuation rankings, the Dolphins ranked dead last -- but again, if the lockout is being cited as the reason for salary cuts, we have to keep it in that ballpark. 

The Dolphins are not the first league organization to cut salaries — I know of some people working for the NFL who are really feeling the pinch right now, and at least 10 other teams have employed some sort of cost-cutting measures — and they'll hardly be the last. Especially as the owner-mandated lockout continues, and the damages brought about by the owners are decided in the lockout insurance case, we'll be hearing more and more about how teams and other league organizations are just so sorry, but this can't be helped and it's not their fault.

And when you hear that, remember who started this snowball rolling in the first place — it wasn't the players, who wanted to stick with the status quo. It was the owners, who insisted that the current business model was unsustainable, who then went about making it even more unsustainable to prove the point, and who appear to be hell-bent on making sure that everyone else feels the pinch before they do.

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