Are you ready for some football? Depending on the actions of a Minnesota court and the N.F.L. owners and players in settling the current labor dispute, there may not be any football this fall to be ready for. And, that would be a sad turn of events. Of course, this dispute between the ultra-rich (owners) and the merely rich (players) comes down to one thing — MONEY!
Who wins the battle for more money may be decided by the courts. However, even more importantly for the future of the game, the court of public opinion will ultimately decide who should be the real victor. My brother-in-law and I were discussing just last week the lock-out and who currently has the upper hand in terms of public relations. If you would have asked us last week, we both would have said that the players were viewed more favorably by the public. After all, football fans, even casual ones, know the names of their favorite team’s players. Other than Jerry Jones and Al Davis, many fans don’t really care who the owners are.
Corporate owners, including those who own a piece of a National Football League franchise, are generally not held in high regard by many within our culture, despite the fact that corporate owners — large and small — employ millions of people. One of those people who is employed is Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson has proven his football prowess. Unfortunately for him, and perhaps for his fellow players, his athletic abilities on the field do not translate to the area of public relations. In a P.R. gift to the N.F.L. and its Owners, Peterson has handed them a nicely wrapped present. Perhaps my brother-in-law and I were premature in our conjecture that the players had the upper hand in their labor dispute.
In what must be one of the most ill-advised (if he wasn’t advised, he should have been) and inane comments since John Cusack’s tweets about death cults at Fox News, Peterson has already played the race card, in a manner of speaking. Interviewed by Yahoo (since revised to remove the original comment), Peterson is quoted as saying:
The players are getting robbed. They are,” Peterson told Yahoo. “The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don’t know that I want to quote myself on that. It’s modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too.” (article here)
Really? People laugh at that. I am shocked that people would laugh at Peterson’s equating what is happening in the N.F.L. with slavery. Although I suppose, when someone says something so outlandish, people are bound to laugh. This would indeed be funny if it were not so typically infuriating.
Adrian Peterson makes his living playing the game of football. No doubt, Peterson loves what he is doing. I would presume that he has played football his entire life. Some of his early years, in high school and college were played with no financial compensation (apart from scholarships). Adrian Peterson, in many ways, is living his dream. And, to top it off, he is paid $10 million to play this game.
The question must be asked: Has Adrian Peterson been so blinded by his love of money that he has lost touch with reality? How else to explain such a boneheaded comment? When real, horrific slavery exists throughout the world, including the sexual trafficking of women and children and, when our country is not that far removed from the stain of slavery on our own land, how can a man like Peterson even begin to liken what he and his fellow players are “enduring” to modern-day slavery?
Last I checked, most folks in Minnesota and the rest of the country were not making $10 million in their entire working lifetimes, much less in one 16 game season. Last time I read about the history of slavery in this country, I didn’t see too many slaves living the equivalent lifestyles of Peterson and his fellow players. Last I checked, the constraints of free agency were not comparable to the shackles of slaves (then and now) who desperately yearn for freedom.
After Adrian Peterson is “advised” about his ill-advised comments, he will probably issue some sort of retraction. Perhaps he will have thought better of his comparison and found it lacking. Maybe he really didn’t mean to equate modern N.F.L. Owners with slave owners of yesteryear. In a contentious battle for the hearts and minds of football fans the world over, perhaps it might be better during the lock-out and off-season for Adrian to learn how to hold his tongue. Learning how to hold onto the football wouldn’t be bad either.