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August 11, 2005

Of Money, The NFL, and The Supreme Court

Derek Shackelford

As National Football League training camps conclude their second week, there has been much discussion and debate over contracts. That's right, as in the movie "Jerry Maguire," players are shouting "show me the money."

And why not? Everyone else is getting it; the owners have it; the television networks have it; and even you and I have it.

By this time you are saying, "What do you mean that I have it."

Well, apparently, we, the fans do have it, because if the owners have it and the television networks have it, then we have it, too.

Professional football viewing is at an all time high and the latest bidding process between the Sunday Night and Monday Night NFL packages prove that television is willing to invest in it - predicting soaring viewership and thus ratings.

Player contracts are in excess of $1 billion total. There have been critics who say NFL players are greedy and make too much money; that they should honor the contracts until they expire.

Well, not really! NFL player contracts are not guaranteed. They can be cut at any time and if injury occurs, they are out on a limb. NFL player make most of their money through huge signing bonuses. That is why they always want to negotiate - to make sure they get their money up front.

I am certainly not saying that NFL players are underpaid and that they will make more money than most people will see in a lifetime. But the fact remains that is where the market is and how much financial leverage professional football has garnered over the years.

Of course, there are many ways that the money that is squabbled over could be used in our communities, but before we begrudge the players' salaries, let us take a look at the owners and television networks profits - the money that these two entities rake in at the expense of us - the fans.

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The Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts are scheduled to take place next month. There has been much political posturing by both Democrats and Republicans over this federal appeals court judge.

Democrats say that Judge Roberts' record needs to be closely scrutinized, while the Republicans say that there is not a finer candidate.

Judge Roberts does have impressive credentials and, from all appearance, a fine demeanor. But that does not mean he will make a fair Supreme Court justice.

Does President George W. Bush think for one moment that John Roberts will not sway the court in one direction? Why, of course, he does and he expects it.

Does President Bush think that John Roberts will have more of a conservative ideology in ruling from the bench? Of course he does.

Two issues that have caused the most controversy over the past few decades have been abortion and affirmative action. This current administration has already drawn the line on these issues. There is something to be said about these civil rights issues being decided by what could possibly be nine men.

If the President was really sincere about having a Supreme Court that represented America, he would have nominated a woman.

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Also, there has been much media attention over the past few weeks over the Karl Rove situation. The investigation apparently still continues over who started the leak regarding a CIA agent. If the public was really concerned about money, we would not ask how much are the NFL players making, we would ask how much of our tax dollars are being spent on this investigation.

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