I recently heard the news that the Detroit Lions, because of the lockout (and like many other teams in the NFL), had decided to implement furloughs for their employees, which is a fancy way of saying an unpaid vacation. Vacations are great. Unpaid vacations have a way of causing “lifestyle adjustments”. My first thought was amazement: Ford Senior actually realizes there is a lockout going on? I assumed that the other owners got his vote on the lockout by waking him up early from his afternoon nap and then having him sign the forms before he took his meds.
But the more I considered the situation, the more confused I became. The Detroit Lions had cut pay for their employees, who live in an area which is in the midst of one of the worst recessions seen in recent history. Why? Does Ford Sr. not have enough money? Last I looked Ford Motor Company wasn’t doing half bad (if you consider a profit of 2.8 BILLION in the first three months of the year a decent profit.) Now, even if the rest of the Ford’s treat good ol’ William Clay Senior like the crazy uncle in the room, you still have to figure that he isn’t having difficulties refinancing his house because he is upside down on his mortgage.
Maybe the other owners are hurting financially? As I sat down to do some research, I realized I was hungry, so I went to the old college standby – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Quick, easy, and oh so good, I was just getting ready for my first bite when I started considering that Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, might be somehow involved with my beloved macaroni and cheese. So I googled Robert Kraft, to discover that he was worth approximately 1.1 billion dollars. Obviously he has a second source of income to “tide him over” during the lockout.
Perhaps someone online, being much smarter than me, could help me understand (one of the benefits to being an online blogger, right?) I sat down to write an article about it, and then realized I was using a Microsoft program. Microsoft, as in the company co-founded by Paul Allen, owner of the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe some work around the house would clear my head, and allow me to see the big picture? I raced to Home Depot to get some supplies – oh, wait, Home Depot is owned by Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons. And I realized I was driving a Ford. Using gasoline, probably from an oil field found by the company owned by Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) or drilled out of the ground by Paul Bowlen (owner of the Denver Broncos). It seems that the other owners also have some supplemental income.
Now I was so confused, I decided a beer was in order to calm me down. I drove to a Wal-Mart for a six pack, trying to use as little gas as possible. After racing inside, I realized that Wal-Mart was founded by Bud Walton, whose daughter married Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams. While searching for the beer I pass the drugstore, full of items made by Johnson and Johnson. Coincidently, Johnson is the last name of the owner of the Jets – Woody Johnson, and his great grandpa was the one who founded Johnson and Johnson.
So at this point I was hungry, angry and low on gas. But I was still confused. Employees of the Detroit Lions were now juggling their budgets, maybe cutting vacation plans or kids’ college funds, because NFL owners had forced them to take a pay cut? It is especially confusing because the NFL HASN”T LOST ANY MONEY YET. We are still in the NFL off-season, the time after the draft but before the pre-season starts. No ticket sales have been lost – actually Detroit Lions season tickets sales (and the rest of the NFL) are UP from the same period last year. If anything, by not signing free agents and draft picks with those lucrative signing bonuses, the owners are actually saving more money than they do in a regular off-season. Yet, for whatever reason, they feel the need to lay people off. How can they explain this?
In the end, I realize that no matter how the owners try to explain it, I won’t understand it. Not because I am not smart or financially savvy, but because I am a normal person with a regular job and a mortgage and a family that depends on my paycheck coming in every two weeks. In the end, owning a football team is a hobby for the owners while it is the sole source of income for the employees. In the end, the owners will still be billionaires with multiple revenue streams from many different businesses. And in the end, trying to understand billionaires squabbling over what amouns to pocket change, and punishing regular people in the process, will never be explainable.