|ESPN.com: Reilly, Rick||[Print without images]|
|Washington Redskins' Daniel Snyder, Seattle Seahawks' Paul Allen and Philadelphia Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie are just three owners who can't seem to rein in their greed.|
“They say they're losing money. But if you were losing money and were asking for $1 billion back, wouldn't you slap some proof down on the table? The owners are more secretive with their books than KFC is with its recipe. Take our word for it and just fork over the billion. Oh, and play two more games for free. Thanks. In this, the greediest and most shameful era in American business history, the NFL owners would steal the cake. No set of sports owners in U.S. history has known this kind of popularity, love or cash. If there is a lockout, the day the 2012 season starts, every fan ought to pelt the owners' luxury boxes with pennies. Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, owns an 18-bedroom estate with a three-hole golf course, two-lane bowling alley, two-story recreation center and indoor tennis court. He's really going to lock players out? For what, his own ski hill? Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams, owns four homes, four ranches and three vineyards. He once ordered his employees to destroy $3 million in wine because he didn't think it was up to his standards. His wife is a Wal-Mart heiress. Are you really fretting about his future? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the other day that the owners need this money to build new stadiums. And who profits from new stadiums? The owners. A new stadium doesn't make the team any better. The seat under your butt isn't any bigger. But a new stadium, usually built with vats of your tax dollars, funnels millions more per game into an owner's pocket via luxury boxes, concessions and advertising. That's money that isn't shared 32 ways. What Goodell is saying is, "We need that billion so my owners can buy new Bentleys. Theirs are dusty." Locking out the players now would be unjust, unfair and as indefensible as Al Davis' wardrobe. There is so much to go around, it's obscene. A billion back? These guys have that in cash. Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, once bought a $14 million Palm Beach mansion and never moved into it. He later sold it for $24 million. Bud Adams, owner of the Tennessee Titans, has 10,000 head of cattle. Jennifer Lopez, part owner of the Miami Dolphins, has offered to auction off her twins' clothes because they're not allowed to "repeat" outfits. When's the telethon?
No set of sports owners in U.S. history has known this kind of popularity, love or cash. If there is a lockout, the day the 2012 season starts, every fan ought to pelt the owners' luxury boxes with pennies.”
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Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "SportsCenter" and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive.
Feel like taking a detour from sane sports? Try Rick's new book, "Sports from Hell."