There wasn't much news on the field during the final Cowboys preseason game, but Jerry Jones made some off of it when he answered a question about the Vikings' quest for a new stadium in the Twin Cities. Jones called for the state of Minnesota to step up and help the team because he's tired of helping to foot the bill for the Vikings.
"Right now, we are subsidizing this market," Jones said. "It's unthinkable to think that you've got the market you got here - 3 ½ million people - and have teams like Kansas City and Green Bay subsidizing the market. That will stop. That's going to stop. That's on its way out."
The "unthinkable to think" construction is a mindbender, but don't let it get in the way of the real point here. While it's funny that Jones has an issue with a socialist-type structure when JerryWorld was partially financed by taxing the people of Arlington, his words reveal a deeper issue that's going to come up a lot over the next year or so in the NFL. The league's collective bargaining agreement with the union expires after this season, a situation which, if unfixed, will mean 2010 is played without a salary cap and raises the chance of a lockout in 2011.
The league has been adamant about pointing the finger at the union for creating an untenable situation because players get sixty cents of every dollar in revenue, but Jones and other high-revenue owners are losing a lot more money by propping up their less-wealthy peers around the league. It's a fair complaint for someone who has been as successful as Double J, but revenue sharing and a unified ownership group have been two of the biggest reasons for the NFL's success through the years. Eliminating it wholesale would be a dangerous move for a league that thrives because all 32 teams have a fairly equal shot at success.
It would be easy to see Jones as a greedy fellow who just wants a bigger slice of the pie for himself, but by throwing Green Bay into his comments he's making his position fairly clear. The Packers could not exist without revenue sharing, so he's obviously not advocating abolishing the system altogether, but the Packers also wring every dime they can out of a much smaller market than the Vikings. Whatever the problem is in Minnesota, be it the fanbase or stadium or whatever, can be fixed through a new building or a new home town.
There's no doubt that a league should be just what the name implies when it comes to sharing the wealth that all of them work to generate, but there's a lot of doubt about the best way to do that. Jones is going to be the leader of the side that wants less of it and his success in swaying his peers will have a lot to do with the future of football in Minnesota, Jacksonville and elsewhere.
That's going to make Jones a villain, and could bring threats to his health if it leads to a lockout, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the wrong position from a business point of view.