For the lucky 32, the NFL is a league of their own

The NFL and the players' union agreed Thursday to a 24-hour extension of the current collective bargaining agreement so that negotiations can continue. (March 3)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2011; 1:48 AM

I am The Owner and I am a powerful man, a man of vast resources, someone to be reckoned with. And not just a powerful man, but a handsome one, too. Do you know how much money I have? Enough to sit astride my city like a colossus. Understand this: The truth is what I say it is. Why? Because I'm rich.

Also, I am handsome. Don't you think so? Try telling me I'm not. I'll be contacting the league negotiators. I bet I can make you say so.

The wonderful part of being The Owner is that I own things. I own so many things that it's given me the impression I own, well, everything. The biggest thing I own, of course, is my NFL team, which I particularly enjoy because it gives me the sensation that I own people. At the moment the NFL Players Association is trying to tell me I don't really own all the little men down on the field, that I only rent them for a price. But they will soon discover that they are merely "fungible assets" and "labor costs."

As I like to say to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees when they question my vast sense of ownership, "Son, do you need help reading a revenue chart?"

As The Owner, I rely on the gargantuan stream of NFL revenue, $9 billion a year, to help me own all of my other things. I personally made an average of $33 million in 2009 according to Forbes, but that is not quite enough to comfortably pay for all that I own - the boats, and planes, and mansions in Palm Beach and Aspen, and my vineyard, and so I am asking for more.

I own a black limousine with tinted windows, so that I can see out but you can't see in. I like to leave it running, even in the midst of an oil crisis, so the climate inside is just right. I enjoy controlling the climate. Why? Because I can. It makes me feel as though I even own the weather. Do you know what the temperature is? It's what I say it is.

As The Owner, I am far and away the most important person in the league. Proof of that is the fact that I am a billionaire. Do you know how I made my billion dollars? By being The Owner! All I had to do was sit in my Owner's Box, and the value of my franchise quadrupled over 10 years. In 1997 the average NFL team was worth $205 million. By 2007 it increased to $898 million, and all I did was watch! Lucky me! Of course, the luckiest ones are The Owners by birthright. Nine of us inherited our teams, like duchy.

As The Owner, I feel entitled to make the most money of anybody, ever. I really don't understand why players get 60 percent of the league revenue - I mean, after we Owners take the first $1 billion off the top. When players make too much money, it makes me feel that I don't really own as much as I should. It threatens my sense that I am a powerful man, a man of vast resources, someone to be reckoned with. And not just a powerful man, but a handsome one, too.

Whenever I doubt that, I check the tail number on my Gulfstream, and remind myself that as The Owner, I am recession-proof. In the worst economy in history, not one NFL team lost money! That's because 18 of us raised ticket prices in 2010, and do you know what? People paid it! They paid for stale popcorn and flat beer, and even bought "personal seat licenses." Which should tell you who really owns the seats: I do! Munificently, I am willing, in exchange for a hefty fee, to grant the temporary right to sit in them.

As The Owner, I am so supremely powerful that I can reduce entire cities to beggardom.

Not even the president of the United States is as powerful as me, because I have the power to stop play. It's a heady sensation to know that I have the emotions of an entire country on a string, which I can jerk at a whim. In Washington, The Owner can even bring senators and chief executives to helpless tears. Like Gordon Gekko said, "You're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy are you?"

Occasionally, I get the feeling that being The Owner hasn't endeared me to my neighbors. Some people don't understand how billionaires could demand an additional $1 billion in concessions from players whose careers last an average of just three years, and suffer an assortment of degenerative joint and brain injuries. Hey, I have my own health risks: last night at dinner I got a shrimp tail stuck under my fingernail and stubbed my toe on a Krugerrand.

A judge has even accused me of "harming the interest of the players" by trying to hoard TV money. That forced me to soften my stance in the labor dispute in the last 24 hours.

It turns out that insisting on an extra billion dollars for no other reason than I want it isn't going to fly in the court of public opinion, or of law. It's time to negotiate.

So now I'm only demanding an extra $800 million.

Whenever I doubt myself, I turn to my ultimate source of inspiration, the source from which I learned everything I know: DC Comics.

I leaf through the pages studying my mentor, the man I model my behavior after: Lex Luthor, the multinational industrialist and super-genius who seeks world domination through a series of clever business machinations.

As Lex Luthor once said: "We all have our little faults. Mine's in California."

I am such a genius at being The Owner that I can make people believe I own things I never actually paid for: stadiums, for instance. Jerry Jones, The Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, got the city of Arlington, Tex., to give him $325 million to jump-start construction of a new palace, and on top of that he charged fans "personal seat licenses" of up to $50,000 apiece to help pay for it. Taxpayers and ticket-buyers picked up most of the $1.2 billion tab, but guess who The Owner of the stadium is? Jones! And as The Owner, he made $143 million in 2009!

That sort of thing is why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has predicted that NFL revenue will grow from $9 billion to $27 billion by 2025.

You know what that means, don't you? I will own more than ever. Soon you will answer to me, all of you. Because I am The Owner, a man of vast resources and one to be reckoned with.

Also, handsome.

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