John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The NFL and the NEA

Posted on March 4, 2011
I am rooting for the NFL Players Association, and against the NEA.

The NFL players have legitimate concerns. They make a bunch of money for the owners, but the owners give relatively little of it back to the players, especially if you consider the physical sacrifice given by them.

Not one owner would last more than two seconds on the football field. If an owner participated in that new television show “Undercover Boss”, that owner would be unintentionally killed in the pre-game routine.

Imagine if Daniel Snyder would give punting a try, for example. He wouldn’t make it for 10 minutes.

The NFL could not survive without the players. And the players give their lives for the game. Most NFL players end up with their serious injuries having a dramatic affect on their lives well after they retire.

Dave Duerson, the former Notre Dame and Chicago Bears standout, perfectly exemplifies the troubles that face many players well after they retire.

He believed and had plenty of evidence to prove that his brain functions deteriorated over the years because of the many concussions he endured when he played the game. He killed himself rather than keep living with a brain that simply wasn’t working.

Playing football is like being in a car crash over and over again, according to experts. If we are going to submit these players to that kind of punishment, at least they should be paid for it.

In this case, having a players’ union makes perfect sense. The owners won’t budge until they are forced to budge by the power of collective bargaining.

I have real problem when the target of the collective bargaining is the taxpayer. And I don’t think that the power of collective bargaining helps the teacher.

I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and many of them have made their views well-known to me. They want the representation because they believe that they are overworked and underpaid. They believe that they deserve the security that comes with health care and pension because of the bargain they struck with taxpayers years ago, less pay for more security.

It is a compelling argument.

Here is my response: That bargain doesn’t work for the taxpayers and it doesn’t work for the good teachers.

I would gladly double the salary of every good teacher in every school district in the country, as long as that meant that every bad teacher would be fired tomorrow.

I would gladly put an incentive-based program in place that gave great teachers opportunities to make huge bonuses as long as mediocre teachers are held accountable.

I would gladly give teachers more flexibility in how they teach their kids and more freedom in how they get the job done, as long as the closed shop of the teaching profession opens up, so that others who know the subject matter well but don’t necessarily have the right teaching certificate can teach the kids how things work in the real world.

I would gladly give teachers more control of their retirement security, and a nice match for their 401k, as long as we don’t give them incentives to retire at 55 and then spend the next 40 years giving them a healthy pension and an easy retirement with money we don’t have.

I say this as a taxpayer, not as a NFL football owner.

If our education system was the best in the world, I would say that the teacher’s unions might have a point. But our system sucks. We are falling further and further behind. Everybody knows it. We spend more money per capita than any other country in the world, and yet our students aren’t learning.

The system needs to change. Teachers aren’t assembly-line workers. They are critical to our nation’s future. We need the best and brightest to prepare our kids for the stiffer competition that is sure to come from the rest of the world. We need to pay the good ones a lot more and we need to get rid of the bad ones. The unions make it harder for school districts to do that. The unions need to change or they need to be broken.

And that is my response.

I am for collective bargaining for the NFL, but not for the NEA.

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