College football is here, and all the barnacles that hang from that cash cow’s underbelly are feeding. Let’s take a look at the football newspaper of record, USA Today.
Friday’s edition featured six sportswriters picking week 1 winners. Follows are their first three nominees.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech. Lookie here, all six pros pick Alabama to win. Hmm, the Vegas line has Alabama as 21-point favorites. Perhaps picking Alabama is not an impossibly difficult choice?
How about Ohio State vs. Buffalo? Hey, once again, all six USA Today sportswriters pick the same team, Ohio State. What does Vegas say? Ohio State is a 34-point favorite. Perhaps picking Ohio State is something my dog could do?
Finally, Oregon vs. Nicholls State. You guessed it, everyone picked Oregon. Funny, Oregon is favored by 59 points.
Only because you want it, let’s find out how our panel did. By golly, Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon won! Oh, magical prophesies come true!
In that same spirit the Box will offer a pick. General Electric will take in more revenue this quarter than the El Cajon franchise of In-N-Out Burger. Bet on it!
In harmony with the above are NFL contracts. One reads, “...signed a seven-year deal for $130 million.” Actually, the player can only count on money for the season he’s playing and his signing bonus. Everything else is IF. But, it’s rarely written that way.
Which brings us to the NFL concussion settlement. Media reports say there’s a $765 million settlement between the NFL and players provided, as expected, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody approves.
This year the NFL is expected to amass $10 billion, making $765 million less than 10 percent of one year’s revenue. But, as in the case of player contracts, those numbers don’t tell the story.
There are 4500 players involved in the lawsuit. A settlement of $765 million works out to $168,000 per player. But, you and I know it’s never that simple. For example, the settlement actually covers 18,000 former NFL players, and different injuries will get different amounts of money, but let’s ignore all that for the moment.
Grantland journalist Bill Barnwell writes, “In actuality, the league is putting aside a paltry $10 million for research and education, $75 million for baseline testing of each player involved with the lawsuit, and then $675 million as compensation for players or family of players who ‘suffered cognitive injuries.’”
Well, $675 million is still a fat check. Works out to $144,000 per player.
Players don’t get the $144,000 in a lump sum. The money is distributed over a 20-year period. Half to be paid out in three years, the other half to be paid out over 17 years. The NFL is making $10 billion in yearly revenue, projected to be $25 billion by 2027. But, let’s suppose the NFL’s revenue stays flat at $10 billion a year, and let’s suppose there is zero inflation for the next two decades. Journalist David Tigabu, commenting on how much money the NFL will take in over the next 20 years, writes, “...the $675 million figure being distributed to the players through this settlement amounts to .34 percent of the NFL’s total projected revenue over this period.” Less than one-half of 1 percent.
In return, the NFL all but shuts down future litigation and admits no guilt. Payouts won’t be divvied up and handed out. There will be categories and conditions, such as the age of the player, how many years in the NFL, diagnosis, and so on. And payouts are capped. Alzheimer’s disease gets up to $5 million. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy up to $4 million. Dementia up to $3 million. That’s top of the line, best case. Most players won’t see anything near that. For players there will be hoops to jump through, evidence to provide, actually getting the money, much less enough money, in one’s hand will, I’m predicting, be as gut-wrenching as it is with any nitpicking, loophole-looking, customer-hating insurance company.
Three years ago I had vascular surgery to clear plaque from my left carotid artery (the big artery running up the side of your neck). It’s not setting a broken arm, but it’s not a heart transplant either. About 150,000 carotid endarterectomies are done ever year. According to Harvard Medical School, for experienced surgeons, bad outcomes are in the range of one to two percent. I had the operation and spent one night in the hospital. In and out within 24 hours. The bill was $103,000. For the NFL walking dead, checking in with multiple, long-term brain injuries, a million bucks is only the beginning.
NFL as beloved institution in one hand, one-half of 1 percent in the other.