A: The people who oppose it have managed to make it look like a wacky idea. Judging by our mail, most fans think it's wacky. The players took so much heat for making it an issue in 1982 that they're reluctant to stick their necks out again. And I don't blame them. It takes a lot of guts to fight for something that may be right, but ambiguous.
Q: How did the NBA come to it?
A: I've concluded that it takes an enlightened commissioner to push through something that sounds as off-beat as percentage of the gross--and the NBA had such a leader, Larry O'Brien. David Stern also believes in it.
Q: Why are so many of the agents who represent football players against it?
A: They wouldn't be needed to negotiate contracts. The 55%, or whatever, would be put into a pot, and every player would get the same base wage, based on seniority. Performance would also be rewarded. There would be bonuses for team MVP and many other accomplishments. But we wouldn't have any more first-round millionaires. Everyone drafted on the first round gets the same base wage.
Q: Isn't this plan socialistic?
A: This is what the (NFL) owners do with their money. It's as socialistic as they are. The owners share their revenues evenly. For instance, Buffalo and the Rams get the same amount of money from the Super Bowl, regardless of their records. Every year, teams with the worst records in pro football make as much as the winners.
Q: What's the reasoning behind the NFL's sharing policy?
A: The owners think it stabilizes the league, and I agree with them there. By the same token, player revenue sharing would also help bring about stability. The only other thing you need is a just, intelligent performance-bonus system--for players and owners both.
Q: After advocating such things for so many years as a labor leader, are you glad to be back in Wisconsin and out of the line of fire?
A: I like it here, but I liked it there, too. The thing is, I never intended to stay with the (NFLPA) for more than two or three years. After 12 years, I felt I had accomplished everything I could. Besides, I'd become the center of management's hatred. I thought it would be healthier for the (NFLPA) to get another guy (as executive director).
Q: Did you choose right when you chose to return to Wisconsin?
A: Yes. I'm very fond of this state. I'm fond of the people, their attitude. For example, they take pride in their university, and in clean government. This is a progressive state. You can solve problems here, and do it humanely.
Q: Will you be running for the Senate again?
A: Conceivably. It depends on what happens, who's up and who's down. Politics is a nice way to get your point of view across. But fund raising is so obnoxious that it doesn't encourage you to stay in politics. Campaigning for funds is even worse than losing a strike.