By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Arlen Specter knows how to make news.
In an op-ed to the New York Times this weekend, the long-serving U.S. Senator urged Congressional action to solve the seemingly intractable National Football League players’ strike and owners’ lockout.
Citing the $5 billion economic impact that the 2011 season is projected to have (not including ticket sales and TV revenue), Specter argued that the antitrust exemptions granted the NFL by Congress gives the government leverage in the situation.
“With this much at stake, the country should not sit back and wait for the players and owners to reach an agreement on their own. Congress can — and should — intervene to force a resolution of the dispute.”
The former Senator cited his own efforts to push sports legislation; he sponsored a prohibition against financially successful franchises from moving (as the Philadelphia Eagles threatened in the 1980s), as well as a requirement that the NFL (and MLB) pay 75 percent of construction costs for a new stadium.
“Congress should place a special condition on the continuation of the N.F.L.’s antitrust exemption: the owners and players must abide by a settlement procedure known as last-best-offer arbitration,” Specter wrote, echoing his approach to labor issues while in office.
“This procedure would require the two sides to negotiate; if an agreement is not reached, each side would make its last best offer and an arbitrator would chose between the two. This arrangement creates an incentive for each side to make the more reasonable offer, lest the arbitrator pick the other side’s.”
Specter is Pennsylvania’s longest-serving Senator, having worked in Congress from 1981 to 2011. He is no stranger to controversial sports issue. He led the charge against the cheating New England Patriots during the Spygate ordeal, and fought to ban steroids from being sold as nutritional supplements.