Even the casual fan knows that professional sports franchises have not been immune to the lackluster state of the economy.
The Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars are among the teams that have laid off staff members. Even the NFL itself has announced staff reductions, and commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a pay cut.
The Washington Redskins, who laid off 20 of its rank-and-file employees earlier this year, have come under fire from Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins. She weighs in today about the Redskins’ signing of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth last week to the tune of $100 million over seven years as others in the organization have lost their jobs:
The fact remains that the team has spent heedlessly compared with its NFL peers. The binge, while less than the numbers indicate, nevertheless will mean guaranteed payouts of $72.5 million to Haynesworth, cornerback DeAngelo Hall and guard Derrick Dockery — at a time when the team has undergone not one but two rounds of staff cuts.
There is, of course another side to the story. The spend-money-to-make-money argument comes to mind. The Redskins apparently think that by investing in their product while trimming the proverbial corporate fat, the team stands to see long-term financial benefit.
However, that doesn’t answer for the potential negative PR the move could make:
The Haynesworth signing might be justifiable by itself, and it’s likely to have a high impact on the team. But in combination with lower-wage layoffs, it’s as troubling as it is exciting, and it sends a poor message.
One good that could possibly come out of all this is that if Haynesworth, Hall and Dockery live up to their pay, if they perform and win, there is a chance some of those laid-off and seasonal workers can be rehired. Which should give every working stiff a rooting interest.
What do you think? In these tough economic times, should teams be more concerned about public perception?