Can’t anybody here play this game?

Is there no-one down your NFL HQ who took a PR course in business school? Today we have another domestic violence arrest, and as the player is not a star and the team can do OK without him, a quick suspension. But we also learned that Peterson and Hardy’s “suspensions” (also Dwyer’s, I think) are vacations with full pay.  I thought paid vacation was a nice thing that people usually want more of! Roger, Roger, you don’t want pictures of these guys partying on the beach with floozies popping up in supermarket aisles; drawing multi-million dollar salaries, there’s plenty left after their lawyer bills to do that.

This is, if possible, even more messed up than yesterday’s improvisations, and it’s bleeding out from the NFL and owners’ suites to all the players, because the Players’ Association contract agreement is looking like a place for violent thugs to hide behind.

Here’s what I think should happen when there’s good reason to believe a player has behaved heinously off the field (good reason is certainly an arrest and might well be a lot less):(1) No play, no practice, stay away from us.  Leave your cell phone number; don’t call us.

(2) Your salary goes into an escrow account that you can get at should you establish your innocence. Not “not guilty” court-of-law innocence, or a nolo plea deal for probation and counseling you got from a football-fan ADA: reasonable person preponderance-of-the-evidence innocence. Otherwise it goes to a charity that fights domestic abuse, drunken driving, or whatever you did, except that

(3) if your offense involved a domestic partner or child, half that salary is for them, free and clear, while you’re on suspension.  It’s outrageous that the victim of your behavior has to humiliate herself in public forgiving you and blaming herself (cf. Tanay Rice) to protect her financial interest in the career you wrecked, or pauperize herself in order to get away from your abuse.

See, when you’re in court chiseling and weaseling out of paying for the brain damage you laid on your straight-ahead players, and shoveling millions of dollars for no work to the bad actors, people might think your people don’t completely understand the situation, or maybe that you kind of suck at what you-all are being paid for.  You’re crossing out of the sleazy greed zone into  a much worse place (for you), the clueless incompetent zone, and in that place, in the business world, stuff starts falling on you very hard.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

3 thoughts on “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

  1. The NFL could always call in Sepp Blatter. Now there's somebody who knows how to run a bent pro sports shop for decades, treated as a head of state.

  2. It's odd how many left and center-left people are willing to make an exception to the default principle that the rights of workers are to be protected at all costs and collective bargaining agreements are sacred.

  3. Sure. Because what the United States needs is giving more power to employers to control every aspect of their employees' lives at all times whether or not they are on the clock.

    ". . . the Players’ Association contract agreement is looking like a place for violent thugs to hide behind."

    Or, you know, it's a document that binds the league to follow certain processes if they want to void a signed contract and to allow the players to appeal to an independent arbitrator rather than giving a clown like Roger Goodell the power to arbitrarily punish them.

    This trend that we must compensate for the gross inadequacies of our judicial system by setting up employers as the backstop using substantially lower standards of evidence and little oversight is a bad one. Focus your attention where it belongs: on the police, prosecutors, and judges who do not take domestic violence seriously.

Comments are closed.