tv Mark Leibovich Big Game CSPAN January 5, 2019 9:19am-9:31am EST
story of vladimir putin's war on america is co-authored with michael isicough. is a the book the blind ghost and showdown. live sunday from noon to 3:00 eastern on booktv. >> the national press club holds an annual book fair and booktv attended and spoke with several nonfiction authors. mark leiva which talked about current issues facing the national football league. >> the national correspondent for new york times magazine, author of 3 other books, this is his new one, the nfl in dangerous times. what is the current state of the national football league? >> most popular sport in the country never been more profitable, never had more people watching and it feels like the chandelier is going to
fall on the league at any point. they never felt more dangerous, the league has so many existential issues around health and safety, the incompetence of the people who run the thing, the nfl has gone from being the most unifying institution we had in this country to 10 or 20 years later being probably the most divisive sports brand we have this is a 5-year romp through the nfl. >> to the beginning of the national anthem controversy two years ago, correct. >> it really started when colin kaepernick started kneeling to protest police brutality. it was two years ago. it was a contained controversy for your and donald trump
weighed in and political reporting for the new york times, jumped into this to take a break from politics and football does not offer any respite from american politics these days. >> why did trump go after the nfl? >> a couple reasons was one, he think it's a great political issue, going after these elites, disrespectful athletes but donald trump has had a long-standing obsession with the nfl, trying to get into the league to own a team for four decades. he has always been rejected by the real billionaire boys club of america, the nfl owners. this is a great way, trying to get into the league by buying the buffalo bills in 2014. the owners wanted nothing to do with him. i don't know what it says about the priorities of our culture but the ultimate consolation prize is to end up in the white house and troll from the bully pulpit. there is some revenge involved,
some personal grievance involved as there often is with the president but ultimately it is fun for him and think that is a winning issue. >> he talked to two thirds of the owners and roger goodell. over the course of five years, did you see their concerns shift to public protest? >> part of the dirty little secret of the league is the owners are very old. they don't often think in terms of what this sport will look like 30 or 40 years from now. they stay away from the record tv ratings or the record revenue or the huge broadcast contracts we are getting. there are these dustups like the ray wright situation in baltimore is the end them controversy. they don't know how to think of these things.
they don't know what is coming or how to handle it. it is very short-term precarious for the league. >> host: a matter of growing pains, the national football league was not the most popular sport in america. they get very big, very quickly over the last 15 years. >> yes and no. they've been the most popular sport in america measured by tv ratings for 55 years. it goes back to the late 50s. the nfl has been king in this country is measured by these indicators like tv ratings and dollar signs for a long time. what the league doesn't have its head around is how fast this can change. there biggest nightmare, i did a lot of reporting on this, is becoming like the tobacco industry. smoking was such a part of this culture. it was the air we breathe.
tobacco companies thought they could get away with it forever and all of a sudden people came around saying what are we doing here? should we regulate this? can we sue this? there are all kinds of legal and regulatory and political obsessions the league rightfully has because that is in the middle of the culture they are trying to dominate. they are fully aware this is not a long-term guarantee and it could end very quickly. i don't know. growing pains may be a small part of it but they are trying to stay ahead of the culture. >> i'm curious about the financial end of this. wondering what the owners thought the players don't have guaranteed contracts like baseball or basketball, often times the average nfl player lifespan is two or three years tops and their pensions are notoriously nonexistence.
with the cte combined are they losing the pool of players? >> great question. that is one of the existential questions, there are so many fewer kids playing football and parent allowing their kids to play football that the labor pool will skew over the next few decades to even more sort of more basically a more poor sort of pool of labor like you see in boxing or things like that. that is part of it. having said that, youth participation drops in all sports, not just football. in some ways the leagues are competing with bones, all these entertainment options that kids and grown-ups and people have that compete with football. you got your football game on saturday and the game we watch on sunday on tv, that is all over so it is the same
free-for-all broiling the rest of america, very much at risk football. >> it is reported the owners of the nfl are in accordance with each other. they have almost a socialist understanding in regards to how they share their money. >> it is true. the nfl, all 32 owners are billionaires. they are set for life. many generations down. they basically have decided to pool their resources. 60% of the revenue the nfl comes from tv contracts, broadcast contracts which they negotiate every few years, the league has leverage but they all share it. there is a piece of this private has individual revenue, the dallas cowboys can make a bunch of money, the bigger market teams can but ultimately they are sharing their wealth and that works for them.
it is essentially a cartel. the owners are sharing profits but also eyeing each other with great suspicion. >> players union contract is coming up shortly. the former commissioner of the nfl was known to be close to the commissioner of the time. the current -- a sticky relationship. >> much more combat of relationship with roger goodell and doris smith, the commissioner of the league, they have been fighting like cats and dogs for several years. the next collective bargaining agreement comes up in two years. there is a sense the last one they negotiated was favorable to the owners and lamar smith believes we will get back at them next time. i don't know if there will be a work stoppage or whatever but
it could be a tenuous situation so we will see. >> one more question to represent. colin kaepernick have asserted that the owners blackballed him. minivan say that is true, and a focal back forgotten jobs that he hasn't gotten. what do you think? >> not only do a lot of people think that but enough people along the way in the colin kaepernick lawsuit have thought it. he has a lawsuit against the league, collusion lawsuit. we will see. there is a level of transparency of exposure to the owners who are usually pretty private, don't like to come out in public and be testifying under oath the way they might have to be. we will see. it has gone farther than they thought. that is one of the many, i wouldn't say headaches. it's the given headache. one of the many sides of the
league has very little idea how to handle and seems like something that could have been handled more easily so we will see where that goes. >> steve national correspondent for new york times magazine, this is his new book, big game, the nfl in dangerous times. thanks. >> keep an eye out for more interviews from >> booktv continues with a full lineup of nonfiction authors and books including a live in-depth interview with david corn. his books include blonde ghost, showdown and originally published russian roulette. also this weekend on afterwords, the growth of illegal trade with the
emergence of new technology that we visit santa monica, california, to visit the city of literary culture. that is all this weekend on booktv, television for serious readers. for complete schedule visit booktv.org. follow us on our social media site,@booktv, for updating behind-the-scenes pictures and videos. >> good evening, everyone. i'm the sheridan dean of the library of johns hopkins, happy to welcome all of you to the george peabody library. i want to acknowledge