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Yesterday, my husband and I were talking about the NFL lockout that is happening. The NFL players (and their union) want complete transparency of their team’s finances. They want MORE money than they are already making. Now ten players, including Peyton Manning (left) and Tom Brady (right), have filed a class-action suit under anti-trust laws, and accused the NFL of “fixing wages”. This blows my mind.

Not being a huge football fan, I can’t bring myself to care very much about the players’ discontent. I think that they have a union that has grossly misled them into thinking that they don’t have “enough”. Now, I’m all for unions – I think they are still relevant, especially to protect people in this economy. I am a member of the CSEA, and our last contract made it possible for my bi-weekly paycheck to increase from $38 to $100, thanks to a negotiated decrease in insurance costs (I now pay only 60% of the premium). I am thankful that I am in a union that made that possible. I still need to have a second job on top of my full-time job in order to make ends meet, but I am thankful that the CSEA was able to get me a little more take-home pay.

Peyton Manning makes $14 million a year (that’s almost $40,000 per day, and doesn’t include his annual $13 million in endorsement income). Tom Brady makes $10 million. Julius Pepper makes $14 million. Nate Clements makes $11 million. The average NFL player makes over $2 million. For 16 games. In comparison, the average NBA player makes $5.5 million and the average MLB player makes $3.3 million. Football players argue that the salary cap is unfair. Jeez, sign a guy for $20 million and he wants more than that. In addition, if he gets fired, his signing bonus (which counts toward his $20 million) stays in his bank account; he doesn’t have to give it back. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

Players argue that they might get hurt, or disabled, or, worst of all, killed while playing their sport. They say they can only do it for a limited number of years before they have to retire. Aw, poor things. My heart bleeds for them. They knew that from the get-go. Firefighters, police officers, paramedics, soldiers also know before entering their careers that there’s a chance they might get injured or killed. Yet they do the job anyway because the job speaks to something in their soul. It speaks to a sense of loyalty, country, duty. Injury is a small part of the equation.

A friend of mine was a police officer until he was shot. Now he’s a paramedic. You’d think he’s safer, right? The other day he had a syringe sticking out of his elbow and had to use pliers to get it out. YUCK! That’s beyond gross in my book, yet he gets through it with gallows humor and lots of antibiotics, because he knows that what he does matters. Did you know that the average annual salary of paramedics in the US is just over $38,000? That’s less than Peyton Manning makes in a day. The average firefighter makes $44,000 and the average police officer makes 51,410. Average teacher salaries are around $52,000 and registered nurses earn about $54,000. I find these numbers obscene, considering the importance of those professions to society at large.

Ask yourself this: If we are so willing to encourage bratty behavior among men who are ridiculously compensated for playing a game, what does that say about the future of our society? Why is this kind of greed tolerated? What is it teaching our children? Why do intelligent men and women buy into this sham?

Socrates said, “Are you not ashamed of caring so much for the making of money and for fame and prestige, when you neither care about wisdom and truth and the improvement of your soul?” I think he hit the nail on the head. The NFL players should be ashamed of their greed. They should live within their means and keep their jobs in perspective. The general public should stop affording professional athletes god-like status. They are spoiled men playing a game. I, for one, will boycott the NFL from now until the day I die, because, in the end, football is totally irrelevant.

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