A Possible end to the NFL Lockout? Look to Parshat Pinchas for clues…
The other day, my wife Leora asked me what it meant that the NFL was in a lockout. In that moment, I turned into my father- giving her a lot more information than she probably had expected or wanted (I love you dad!). I discussed what a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is, how the NFL is actually a 501 (c) non-profit (irony anyone?), and the different issues in each of the four major sports. For baseball, it’s salary cap- keeping the little guy in the race. For football, it’s revenue sharing. With all that surplus, how do you divide up amongst owners AND players?
In Parshat Pinchas, named for the man who took justice into his own hands (comparable to the qb who runs a player led workout? a stretch…), we get a second census of 20+ yr olds, taken to figure out numbers not only for the forming of militia groups, but designed to figure out the breaking up of land. The division of land amongst the tribes was decided based on lots as well as this census number. It’s as if this was the first and only CBA- there’s no mention that a census after this moment in time would reshape the borders, giving growing tribes more space. Under this provision, we may have been able to keep more teams like the Green Bay Packers for the long haul.
The torah portion does not end there. The parsha also includes topics such as Jewish holiday observance (thanksgiving football?), laws of succession (making sure that owners are accountable so a Mccourt situation doesn’t occur in football), and laws of inheritance. It’s in the section of inheritance that we meet Zelophahad’s daughters. They ask to inherit his land- and the torah grants them his inheritance because he had no male heir. It’s these times of details- unprecedented situations, that could be vital to preserving football this season and beyond. Finding contingency plans for every situation means that the NFL- it’s players and owners, will be prepared down the road. It’s also getting something in a contract earlier rather than later- it’s always harder to add in stipulations as time goes on.
Pinchas is a parsha about details- dotting the ‘i”s and crossing the “t”s. May this be the week that we finish completing those last details. May the lawyers restore the NFL to health and to vigor. We hope and pray that football is at hand. And let us say Amen!