The Free Press, Mankato, MN


September 29, 2012

Ojanpa: NFL, integrity just a Scrabble word


And then it was all over. A settlement was reached and the “real” refs, many of whom are very well-to-do in their real-life jobs, sweetened their pot nicely. Among other things their deal includes an average salary of $173,000 for 20 days of work a year.

(Before you get into a huff over that, some perspective: Elvis Presley didn’t work at all last year and he pulled down $55 million.)

The two sides have kissed and made up and football fans and the media’s chattering classes have been talked off the ledge.

Said President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney of the settlement: “It’s a great day for America.” He actually said that. I’m not kidding.

It’s also a great day for the restoration of the NFL’s integrity. And here I assuredly am kidding.

To the NFL — and to all major sports entertainment monoliths — integrity is just a nine-letter word that gives you a good score in Scrabble.

This organization is not Mother Teresa giving solace to lepers. It exists to entertain the consumers of its product while making as much money as humanly possible. As a business that’s the only integrity it’s beholden to.

So enough already with the 26,400 mentions that the NFL’s upright ethical principles were tarnished by some temporary hirees tooting whistles.

Besides, the word “integrity” makes for a strange bedfellow in a gladitorial gamblers’-delight sport where bone-breaking is cheered and  the only reason players don’t go at each other with swords and lances is because, by law, they can’t.


Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or email


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