Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Hammer and the Sicko Part 2: Union Busting

Dave Zirin, respected sportswriter and member of THOTM '96, contributes a new angle to the consideration of the NFL's commitment to retired and disabled players as articulated in Part One of The Hammer and the Sicko.

I will be re-articulating Dave's original article, called High Impact: What Football Owes Its Players.

Dave's article is about the evolving relationship between the NFLPA & its retired players. He notes that concerns about brain damage to players is multiplying for two reasons: an increase in the awareness of the injuries as well as the burgeoning size, strength and speed of the players.

DZ makes a brilliant point here: "Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor weighs 235 pounds and runs forty yards in less than 4.5 seconds. His job as safety is to do more than protect his defensive backs: it's to find people with the ball and with his scary combination of speed and power, remove their senses from their body. So the issue of possible trauma is not just for players who retired long ago."

Although I believe Sean Taylor runs a high 4.3 -- not that there's anything wrong with it.

DZ analyzes the sudden Congressional interest in retired players. This is when things get curious. At the hearings, Hall of Famer Mike Ditka spoke up for the players while taking a swipe at the head of the Players' Union, Gene Upshaw.

DZ, an admitted pinko commie, deducts that "A movement that should be advocating for the rights of retired players is beginning to look like a move to discredit and weaken the union, while the owners kick back and allow the carnage to proceed."

Ditka's crossing of the picket line during the 1987 strike as well as quotations from former players who scoff at Ditka's concern do seem to undermine Iron Mike's sincerity. The bandwagon effect of jumping on the right side of disability lawsuits and covering the stink of steroids investigation (baseball) gets everybody moving in one direction. DZ thinks that Gene Upshaw is being held up as a scapegoat.

Upshaw fired back at criticism like the former Raider he is, saying of Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure that he wanted to "wring his neck."

DeLamielleure's response doesn't extinguish the anti-union hysteria: "At first, I was angry, but then reality sets in. My wife was petrified. We grew up in Detroit. You know what unions are. You hear about it. She goes, 'Hey, this guy is a head of a union, a powerful union, when he makes a threat like that, you'd better take it serious."

Something to consider, as we wait for NFL training camps to open on Friday July 27th. As a published novelist and big fan of Muhammad Ali, I recommend Dave Zirin's Muhammad Ali Handbook. Not a biography, but chock full of interesting interviews, opinion and great photographs. It's great for reading on the can.

Finally, as we wrench our guts and wring our wrists out of worry for all these disabled NFL veterans, I would just like to know: where's my fucking healthcare? I'm a citizen of the richest country in the world, I pay my taxes & vote and I have never been arrested for any crime. I can't afford a doctor or a dentist. That is Fucking Bullshit.


Muumuuman said...

Why don't you have healthcare? Because Americans are stupid. All someone has to do its say these things:

"Who want's PUBLIC health care, I think healthcare should be PRIVATE." (Duhhh oh my god I don't want my health problems to be public!)

"Higher TAXES!" (Duhhhh I like paying $7,000 a year out of my salary for health care. They couldn't deny my claim!)

"It's what the FRENCH do!" (Duhhhh I hate the French! Sure they gave us the ststue of liberty, helped us create our democracy, frenchman Marquis de La Fayette did train our troups to fight the Brits, and they gave us the statue of liberty BUT WHAT HAVE THEY DONE FOR US LATELY?)

"You'll have to wait!" (Duhhh.. I'd rather loose my house and go bankrupt when my claim is denied because I checked the wrong box on my application.)

I think we should go back to they days when fire companies were independent too, and would only put of fires for money from insurance companies. Good times.

Andrew Wice said...

Muumuu, who's embiggening the terrorists now?

Now that Dick "Iron Panties" Cheney is in charge during Bush's colonoscopy (insert looking for his head joke here), we all better watch our words for treason.

Like starting a war under a false premise, for example.

Muumuuman said...

I saw Bush talking about health insurance oddly enough - and he did pull the "public - private" word game. But he went somewhere unpredicted by me when he said that if you have poor insurance is your own fault for selecting it. If no one purchaced poor insurance the market would only offer really good insurance. We really dropped the ball on this one. Also, if the Iraqi people would only stand up after the IED blew thier legs off, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Andrew Wice said...

Ah, free-market capitalism. Is there anything you can't do?

Well, I suppose it is completely fucking every single person on this planet except for the CEO's.

To learn how free-market capitalism is draining the world's supply of fresh water, check out