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NFL wants Congress out of labor dispute, except when it helps the NFL

Heath Shuler

Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., walks out of a meeting to speak to reporters on the vote of House Democrats who are electing their leaders for the next Congress, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


Some of you blame the NFL for the current predicament that football fans face. Some of you blame the players.

We blame everyone, since grown men of goodwill and common sense and reasonable intelligence should have been able to figure out how to carve up a $9 billion pie.

And so whenever anyone in this debacle-bordering-on-shibacle says or does something that merits a good calling out, call them out we will.

This hour’s target is the league, which has long resisted any suggestion that Congress be involved in the current dispute between the NFL and the NFLPA*. On January 21, 2011, for example, the league posted at its labor propaganda website a blurb declaring that 99 percent of all fans oppose Congressional involvement in the labor dispute.

“That isn’t anything Congress needs to regulate, nor should it require federal intervention at all,” said Ed Morrissey, proprietor of the site that conducted the poll. “As Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, puts it, ‘The NFL and NFLPA are literally and figuratively big boys. They do not need Congress’s help to referee every business dispute.’”

Apparently, someone from the one-percent minority is minding the store at today.

The latest blurb posted at the site points out that three Congressmen have written a letter to NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith, urging him to meet (for the first time ever) with NFL Alumni president George Martin.

“The retirement benefits for former players are an important issue,” Congressmen Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler (D-N.C.; pictured) said in their letter to Smith. “Therefore, we urge you to set time aside to meet soon with Mr. Martin and NFL Alumni. . . . We look forward to a prompt response to our request.”

Given that the league’s latest offer increases benefits to retired players, the NFL obviously is hoping to squeeze the NFLPA* by persuading current and former players to clamor for the offer to be accepted, or at a minimum for further negotiations to occur.

And that’s fine. But it’s horribly poor form, in for the NFL to take the position that Congress should stay out of the labor dispute when involvement could pressure the league to do a deal, and then to embrace Congressional involvement when it could pressure the players to do a deal.