NFL Draft 2013: Austerity Economics Reflected In Picks

Draft Screen SmallThe NFL Draft 2013 reflects the overall Worldwide economic policies best described in one word: austerity. In an era where adjusted-for-inflation incomes are less than they were 20 years ago, and governments, including the U.S. Government, have adopted the head-scratching approach of spending less when the common rule is for government to spend more to offset poor business investment rates, it should come as no surprise that NFL teams have less money to work with. (Note: Zennie62 is at the NFL Draft – follow on Twitter @Zennie62 and )

Why? Poor NFL attendance figures.

NFL attendance is at its lowest rates since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002. Moreover, NFL attendance has dropped each year over the past five years. The result of this is obvious: less money each year to help pay players and run football organizations had to eventually lead to a place where NFL organizations needed to engineer a way to lower the overall salary platform.

That happened at the NFL Draft 2013.

The central problem isn’t the quality of the NFL product, but the fact that good, well-playing, low-skilled jobs just aren’t here in America. The once-accepted ethic of a full-employment economy that promised jobs for everyone regardless of skill-level (a staple of the 1960s America) has been replaced by the constant push for Americans to be retrained to become bio-science employees and programmers – the process of actually making tools and hardware products has been shipped overseas.

Meanwhile, cities like Detroit crumble under the fiscal weight of infrastructure built during a time when money was more plentiful.

Consider that the new Boeing 787 was built in 96 different countries, with final assembly here in America. That would not have been the case 30 years ago, when almost all of the parts for the plane would have been made in America.

This labor economics phenomena, called ‘The International Division Of Labor’ has impacted NFL attendance because ticket prices have not dropped to meet the new, lower, income levels active today. In other words, the NFL has failed to offer what any other business in this situation would offer: a sales strategy.

Drop the ticket prices to maintain attendance.

Offensive Lineman Aren’t Worth QB Money; The Savings Ploy

Here’s how the NFL has worked to drop prices for rookies in order to free-up money to run team organizations today: team owners say to GMs we have X-level of money to work with now, and to Y-point in the future. GMs are directed to determine that offensive linemen are to be ranked higher because they’re cheaper to pay for than a quarterback or running back in the NFL Draft first round. The result: GMs tell scouts and NFL Draft observers, and the next thing you know, we have a climate where, seemingly impossibly, some of the best quarterbacks ever to play in college football wind up being drafted in the mid-first round or the second round or the third round. Meanwhile the top five picks in the NFL draft were all lineman, save for a cornerback – no QBs, running backs, or wide receivers.

(The whole situation reminds me of a conversation I had with Bob McNair, the owner of The Houston Texans. During that talk, part of which is in the video below, Mr. McNair said that they had the same “budget envelope” for what was to be the organization’s first NFL Draft 1st round pick in its history in 2006. The Texans picked Defensive End Mario Williams in part because of McNair’s concern that Reggie Bush may hold out for a larger payday than what Bob planned, and under the argument that he’s a running back and not a defensive end, and they picked him number one. Thus, when the New Orleans Saints got Bush as the second pick, they could, and did, make the argument that the number two pick never makes more than the first pick that year.)


That dynamic would have been considered impossible to occur until this NFL draft. Moreover, this draft will not be the last time it happens – it will occur again and more often in the future, starting in 2014. In fact, until the economic climate changes (which could only happen with an aggressive spending policy), it will become the norm. The NFL Draft 2013 is the beginning of the end of the NFL Draft making high-salary rookies of skill position players.

Welcome to the NFL’s austerity era.

Stay tuned.

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