N.F.L. players and owners are one and the same.
I never thought I would write those words, but this is the reality of the league’s new gilded age: the distinctions between owners and players, once as vast as an ocean, have blurred, perhaps permanently. Players earning multimillion-dollar salaries have more in common with owners than with the vanishing wage-earning worker.
Players, owners, sponsors and networks all sleep in the same bed. The N.F.L. and the players association are indistinguishable partners in a corporate enterprise that continues to print money. No sympathetic figures are involved in this skirmish.
In 1987, everything was clear: owners, intent on having their way, disrespected players and fans by importing strikebreakers. I will always remember the sight of Gene Upshaw on the picket line exhorting players to stay the course.
Unlike in the 1970s and 1980s, neither players nor owners can claim the moral high ground. From the start of the lockout in March until now, this dispute has been about money, specifically about the reallocation of the N.F.L.’s extraordinary wealth.