Columnist: NFL Retired Players’ Negotiations the ‘800-Pound Gorilla’ of Lockout

San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Gwen Knapp today has a good analysis of the pro football labor talks headlined “For NFL, retiree care is the tougher battle.” (Chronicle columnist content is kept offline for non-subscribers for 48 hours, so no link.)

Knapp mildly disparages the Carl Eller group’s lawsuit as a piece of public relations leverage. This is an unfortunate, though standard, trope of hard-boiled rhetoric by sports pundits who get mileage out of playing the parts of cynics on TV. But Knapp does go on to call the Eller manuevers for a seat at the collective bargaining table “a giraffe and an 800-pound gorilla circling the perimeter of the room.”

Knapp also chooses not to zero in on brain trauma, which is where former football players’ disabilities intersect with the public’s interest, not just the fans’ in expeditiously ending the lockout. She strikes the right note, however, in observing that John Mackey’s death following a long battle with dementia “served as a reminder of the negligence that once ruled treatment of former pro football players, by both their former employers and the union allegedly representing their interests.”

Irv Muchnick

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