Some NFL players might need a primer on capitalism, and how the money is generated for their large paychecks.
The anthem protests are hurting NFL ticket sales, TV ratings and advertising dollars. This will impact the NFL’s revenue and thus the player’s future paychecks.
But we recently saw another example of some players perhaps not understanding capitalism. Each year the NFL plays a slate of London games as they try to grow their international brand. This year they played four games in England’s capital.
On October 22, the Los Angeles Rams played the Arizona Cardinals in London. A few days before that game, Rams running back Todd Gurley made it clear he didn’t want to go.
“[It’s] terrible,” Gurley said. “They need to stop this.”
To Gurley, the concept of playing games overseas is illogical.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Gurley said. “We play Arizona; it’s a 45-minute flight. But instead we’ve got Arizona and us (here). If we were to travel all the way from L.A. it’s 13 hours to travel, when you can just travel 45 minutes. But hey, whatever floats their boat.”
The NFL is a business. Making money “floats their boat.” The London games make a lot of money, the ticket prices are high and games usually sell out. Growing the game internationally is something that will benefit the players because it brings in more revenue they can split with the owners.
When the Rams played in London last year, wide receiver Kenny Britt was a member of the team. He’s on the Cleveland Browns this season, and he voiced his displeasure before their recent London trip.
“I hated London, hated it,” Britt said. “I hated it with a passion. I hated everything about it. I hated the flight. I hated us being there so long. I hated the flight back. I hated the food. You can ask my wife the same thing, and she’ll give you the same answer.”
The problem is Britt’s wife isn’t paying his paycheck. The Browns are paying him, and just like any line of work, if you are asked to take a business trip to help your company, you do it.
And another problem with the comments of Gurley and Britt is they can be perceived as disrespectful to the fans in England paying to see the games; not a pragmatic thing to do in the entertainment business.
Imagine a singer, scheduled to perform a concert in London, trashing the city before the show? That wouldn’t make much sense.
Britt ended up getting benched for the Browns-Minnesota Vikings game in London. It’s unclear if it had anything to do with his comments, or the fact that he’s not playing well.
“Several British journalists were overheard at the Browns’ practice facility saying they expected Britt to be booed for the remarks by fans at Twickenham, but they never got the chance,” wrote long-time Browns beat-writer Mary Kay Cabot for Cleveland.com.
So something NFL Union Chief DeMaurice Smith probably needs to emphasize to his rank-and-file moving forward is the NFL is a capitalistic enterprise, and by kneeling during the anthem, or insulting London, you are hurting the business.
And this could decrease your future earning power.