LOVE OR MONEY
The moans and groans we have been hearing lately about the unusually large sums being offered and paid to rookies (Rookie Bonuses Stan a Battle, Jan. 24) are, in my opinion, ridiculous. Those who complain fail to realize the seller's market in which the rookie operates. The rookie possesses a scarce resource, which more than one potential buyer wants badly. The buyer must reach deep into his coffers, which bulge with box-office and television revenues, to outbid the opposition for the best talent available (thereby insuring continued bulging of the coffers).
The beauty of the two-league system is that it restores, to some degree, the market mechanism for signing players. Under prevailing conditions, each new player is insured a choice and, consequently, a better bargaining position than he would have if there were only one league or a combined draft by both leagues.
The status of veteran players is, of course, less favorable. Not until both leagues cease to be hesitant about picking up rival-league players who have played out their options, as may happen soon in the squabble for Ladd and Faison, will all the players be able to bargain with the teams in the same way the leagues bargain with the networks, the networks with the sponsors, etc.
PAUL C. WHITEHEAD
May I add an amen to the thoughts so well expressed by Mr. Milton J. Baudine (19TH HOLE, Jan. 24) on the foolishness of the $500,000 rookie contract. The two giants from San Diego, Ladd and Faison, represent the beginning of an even larger problem, i.e., how to compensate the pros who prove themselves year after year and who have decided—rightly or wrongly—that they should be worth as much as any raw recruit.
Pro football is not alone in this situation, however. We in business have been paying a little larger premium each year (although not on as large a scale) for recruiting inexperienced college graduates who, because of these high-priced times, find themselves in a most advantageous position.
Let's hope that industry and pro football will step back for a better look—and a better solution, for everyone's sake.
C. J. HAYES JR.
Bethel Park, Pa.
Edwin Shrake says of the Ladd-Faison case, "Adams and his new general manager, the very capable and popular young Don Klosterman, are quite aware that AFL owners—not to mention those in the NFL—feel it would be a dangerous precedent to upgrade veterans, who are simply victims of the times, to the pay scale of rookies."
This passage will remain with me forever as an outstanding example of (hopefully) unconscious irony.
The Ladd-Faison case is proof that the high salaries given to untried players is a mistake. The only solution seems to be that the leagues must combine. The owners should agree to pay no more than a certain amount for a rookie. This would leave college players with no choice but to take it or leave it.
As for Ladd and Faison and others like them, they, too, should be given an ultimatum: either they play for the Chargers (or the Oilers, as the case may be), or they don't play at all. Professional football doesn't need players who don't love the game.