When the history of the 2011 NFL lockout is written (though we're not sure just who on Earth would want to read it), the date May 24 will not go down as one in which the league won the hearts and minds of the football-loving populace. While multiple owners talk up the labor war in luxury hotels in Indianapolis for the most recent owners' meetings, it was revealed that the Baltimore Ravens are the latest team to slash employee salaries — in this case by 25 percent — as a supposed counter measure to the ongoing loss of revenue related to the current work stoppage.
According to Pro Football Talk, the Ravens are now one of seven teams to cut employee salaries or put employees on non-paid furloughs. We commend the six teams that have made the commitment to avoid cutting the salaries of the lowest-paid workers and hope more teams will follow suit.
Some teams are cutting pay with the proviso that if no games are missed, the pay will be returned, but that's hardly appropriate when teams are taking orders for season tickets right now without incurring the costs of preseason training camps or rookie salaries. And with no obligation to pay players during the lockout, it could be argued that at this point, the only non-administrative/non-employee expenses the owners are incurring right now are the legal fees brought about by a lockout that they instigated.
The NFL has come up with another way to offset the supposed terrible loss of revenue that hasn't actually happened yet — they're raising the prices of replica jerseys by five dollars per -- even the rookie jerseys that haven't been made yet. You see, when the rookies aren't signed, they haven't been assigned numbers, and there are no jerseys to sell. The NFL's online store is taking advance orders, though, and the alleged jersey for first overall pick Cam Newton comes with an interesting disclaimer:
Cam Newton's number is subject to change and the jersey will ship in 5-7 business days after the official number has been assigned by the team.
In other words, when you buy an official replica Cam Newton jersey, you're investing in the future of an organization that is claiming poverty in about 12 different directions, but has no trouble borrowing against rookie talent it hasn't yet signed, paid, or assigned numbers to. It's an embarrassment of fairly sizeable proportions, but what would you expect from a company freezing out the low people on the totem pole, seeking deregulation wherever it can be found, and hoarding money like it's going out of style?
If the biopic of the infamous Enron execs hadn't already been titled as such, the history of this lockout might well be served with "The Smartest Guys in the Room." And for many of the same reasons.