NFL Owners opt out of the league pension plan.

Fryingpan Sports

NFL Owners opt out of the league pension plan.

By Bill Smith

In a great piece of investigative reporting, Daniel Kaplan and Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal wrote yesterday in Sporting News Today that behind the scenes, the NFL owners voted to make participation in the NFL League Employee Pension Plan voluntary. The vote was taken at the March owners meeting but was not made public. Up to now, every team had to participate in the program that covers all team employees except players. The NFLPA manages the players’ pensions.

This is important for a couple of reasons. The fact that the NFL did their best to cover up the change is a major concern. The country and the world is in the middle of an artificially caused recession that was created for political purposes by political hacks in Washington. Now the NFL is using the recession as an excuse to cut everything except the prices that fans pay to see the games. And the teams are doing it behind the backs of the fans and the public. A league spokesman mentioned in the article refused to confirm or deny the decision. In an era of the public demanding much more transparency from all organizations, the secrecy with which this proposal was passed is disturbing.

The article also reported that according to other unnamed sources, a couple of teams had already told employees of the change. Presumably those teams and perhaps others will be ending their contributions to employee pension plans. These changes will occur without warning. It is a unilateral change in the contracts of coaches and other employees without renegotiating the deal.

An unnamed source close to the decision also said that this was not a signal to the Union about the upcoming negotiations according to the article. That is an outright lie. Everything that the League and the Union says and does has an impact on the negotiations. This move is not a good sign for successful negotiations with the Union.

There is another question I have about the decision. If the teams would do that to the coaches and employees, what will they be willing to do to the customers—the fans that pay to see the game and those that buy the products that are advertised during the games on TV? The obvious answer is that they will do whatever they think they can get away with. That too is not a good sign for an agreement to prevent a strike/lockout in 2011.

The NFL lives on exposure but only exposes what it wants the fans and the public to know. This article was an excellent piece of investigative journalism. It is just too bad that major media outlets don’t use that same level of effort to uncover and report what is going on behind the voters’ backs in the nation’s Capital.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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1 thought on “NFL Owners opt out of the league pension plan.”

  1. Money is getting tight – this lockout could get ugly.

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