Monthly Archives: September 2007

Mike Ditka, Former Players Ask the U.S. Senate to “Fix” the NFL

WASHINGTON — After testimony Tuesday by retired NFL players about red tape in qualifying for disability benefits related to on-the-field injuries, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said the league is “dropping the ball.”


“My hope is that the league will get its act together here,” Kerry said. “I am prepared, if the league doesn’t do that, to introduce, which I hope we would never have to do, legislation to create some kind of appropriate accountability and oversight.”


Upshaw said that of 1,052 players who have applied for disability since 1993, 428 (40.7%) have had their claims approved. But he told the committee the work could be streamlined if Congress changed a law that requires the six-member board, which makes decisions on claims, to include three representatives from the team owners and three from the union. Upshaw said it “makes sense” for the players union alone to make the decisions.


Hall of Famer Mike Ditka: “The system is broke. Fix it. … Don’t make proud men beg.”

The idea that former NFL players and coaches have sought help from the U.S. Senate to act as a referee between former players and the NFL bothers me both as a fan of the NFL and as someone who believes the government should stay within its Constitutional boundaries (I’m especially disappointed in “Iron Mike” Ditka for stooping to such a low level; I thought he was made of sterner stuff). If history is any indication, if Ditka et al wish for the congressional oversight over the NFL, they will likely get their wish. John Kerry seems all too eager to put on the zebra stripes, throw the flag, and penalize the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we have a few more pressing needs that our elected officials should be concerned with such as the war, the VA system, wasteful spending, etc?

As for the former players, they had to know what they were getting into when they decided to play professional football. NFL players both past and present have received the fame, the fortune, and the ability to retire when they are very young. Sure, the players of yesteryear did not earn quite what today’s players do, and perhaps were not marketed as aggressively as today’s players but they each signed contracts and should have known what the risks were. Football ceases to be a game at the professional level (probably even at the college level) because of the increased size, strength, and speed of the players. Players can and do get injured; most feel the toll on their bodies for the rest of their lives.

Given these risks, what should the federal government do? The only branch of the government that could possibly have a role would be the judicial branch. If the NFL somehow violated the terms of these players contracts, the NFL should be compelled to honor those terms by the courts. If this is not the case, then these former players should have no remedy from the federal government.

This does not mean, however; that these players don’t have other means to pay for their medical expenses. The NFL, its players, and its coaches are not hurting for money. If Ditka doesn’t want to “make proud men beg” then shouldn’t he first appeal to his NFL contacts and pass the hat? Surely, there would be at least a few owners, coaches, players and perhaps even fans who would be willing to donate some of their money to such a cause.

As for those who are currently playing in the NFL, if they are concerned with health issues which inevitably will continue long after retirement, they need to address these issues within their organizations and within the NFL. Not one nanosecond of the American people’s time should be spent on this matter.

Rudy Giuliani Flunks Geography

Apparently, the former Mayor of New York thinks that the North Atlantic Ocean extends alot further than most of us might have thought:

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani urged NATO to admit Australia, India, Israel, Japan and Singapore on Wednesday as part of proposals to combat Islamic extremism.

Okay, so maybe its time for a history lesson here.

The North Altantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in the years after World War II primarily for the purpose of resisting Soviet expansion in Europe. The last time I checked, the Soviet Union didn’t exist anymore. And, notwithstanding my public school education, I’m pretty sure that Australia, India, Israel, Japan, and Singapore are not in Euorpe, and that none of these nations are under the threat of Soviet domination.

I’m not saying that America doesn’t have international interests with these nations worth protecting, but I do wonder why an organization created to counter a threat that no longer exists insists on expanding itself.

Latest Gallup Poll Puts Ron Paul At 4%

Last week, I noted that the first post-summer Gallup Poll seemed to show Ron Paul slipping back into the 1% range after a summer that had him moving up in the polls.

This week’s poll results are out, and it seems that the September 10th release may have been a statistical anomaly:

PRINCETON, NJ — Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the national race for the Republican presidential nomination, although his support has faded to one of its lowest readings of the year. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who recently announced his candidacy, holds steady in second place, 8 percentage points behind the frontrunner. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain has continued to recover from his early August doldrums and is in third place, only 4 points behind Thompson and more than 10 points ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Romney’s mini-bounce after the Iowa straw poll in early August appears to have been short-lived.

In general, support for McCain has shown gradual improvement over the past month, and Americans’ opinions of McCain are at their highest point since May. McCain is now rated as favorably by Americans as Giuliani, and more so than the less-well known Thompson or Romney.

The Sept. 14-16, 2007, Gallup Poll survey finds Giuliani maintaining a significant lead over the eight other announced Republican candidates, with 30% of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) supporting the former New York City mayor for the nomination. Following next is Thompson at 22%, McCain at 18%, and Romney at 7%. Both former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and current Texas Congressman Ron Paul get 4% of the vote.

Admittedly, an increase from 3% to 4% is, statistically speaking, not all that important. But at least it shows that the notoriety and support that the Paul campaign had gained over the summer didn’t simply evaporate. It also shows that the only way to really look at poll results is not as a single snapshot, but to watch the overall trends.

And, on the GOP side, the trends are interesting.

Giuliani remains in the lead, but his support is slipping and a guy who has only been in the race for a week is gaining on him fast. McCain is now a third-place candidate, which basically means he’s done. Romney had a boomlet for awhile but seems to be quickly fading.

As for Ron Paul, I’m not sure what it means. 4% is not a number upon which a winning campaign is built, but it does show that there’s growing support for a libertarian message among Republican voters.

And that can only be a good thing.

Happy Constitution Day

It was 220 years ago today that the Constitution was signed by it’s drafters in Philadelphia:

What’s the most important day in American history? Most of us would answer the Fourth of July. But think about today, Sept. 17.

For on this date in 1787, the convention in Philadelphia completed work on one of the greatest acts of creative leadership of all time, “this Constitution of The United States.” The framers rescued America from what James Madison later described as “so gloomy a chaos” and set the world marching toward what we can now see as the Age of Democracy.

Yet there will be no parades today, no picnics or fireworks. Perhaps a library somewhere is sponsoring a talk, but Constitution Day will pass largely unnoticed. Americans have, over the past 40 years, drifted away from a connection to our Constitution, the document that invented the United States as we now understand it and helped it to become the longest enduring democracy in history.

Sadly, this is largely true, but I don’t think a parade is necessary. All you really need to do is read the document itself, and ponder what has become of it.

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