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NFL Players, Fans, and the AFT

Most of us love football. Not only do we love it, we feel a part of our favorite team. When our team wins, we win. When our team loses, we also feel the pain. And after the Super Bowl, we all may lose football.

The owners of the National Football league are threatening to lockout the players next season unless they take less money and agree to play two more games. More work, less pay. That's not the way we want to relate to our favorite players.

"We want to play," says Kyle Orton, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, "Fair compensation and a safe workplace is something that all Americans want, including the players of the NFL."

The National Football League Players Association has launched an online petition calling attention to the harm that would come to communities and workers with a lockout.

So when NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith declares, "We are at war!" he is not just speaking for the 1,600 plus NFL players, he is speaking for the 140,000 working people around the country whose jobs also depend on football games. And he is speaking for all of us who have been asked to work more for less pay.

According to Forbes, "The NFL has never been more profitable by our count, with the average team earning $33 million in 2009 in operating profit." Yet the NFL owners claim the current model will not work in the future. Why? They won't say. They refuse to open up their books or provide sufficient financial information to back up their claim.

"The NFL has never been more popular," says Brian Frederick, executive director of Sports Fans Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit fighting to give sports fans a voice on public policy issues. He has previously worked with AFT Colorado to call attention to the wasteful spending on sports stadiums. "Yet, the owners want to throw a screeching halt to what we have all helped build for the sake of their own profits. It would be disastrous for everyone."

With each NFL city standing to lose up to $160 million, the NFL owners' plan for a lockout is not only a war against the players, but also on our communities and on the game we love.

Frederick also points to the amount of money cities and states have paid toward NFL stadiums. "Fans and taxpayers around the country have paid at least $6.5 billion for NFL stadiums," he says. "In some cases, like Denver, perfectly good stadiums were torn down in favor of lavish new ones that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. And now NFL owners are complaining about the costs of stadiums?"

Players, fans, and the AFT are fighting back. Join the fight.

Help block the lockout by going to NFLlockout.com and signing the petition demanding that the NFL owners let them play. Either we all stand together, or we stand to lose jobs in our communities and the game we love. [Russell Bannan, AFT Colorado]

February 4, 2011