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Dale Hansen: Salary Cap is Un-American
02:17 AM CDT on Thursday, June 3, 2004
Dallas WFAA-TV Ch. 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen has been around these parts since 1981, covering sports every weeknight at 6 and 10 p.m. and Sunday nights on Dale Hansen's Sports Special. Every week on CowboysPlus.com he sounds off on the Cowboys and the NFL.
Can you explain the NFL salary cap in 100 words or less?
Uh, no. I couldn't do it in 1,000 words or less. I think the salary cap is an unfortunate aspect of pro football. I think it's a sad thing when good veteran players are being let go - not because the owners aren't willing to pay them - but because some arbitrary group has decided that there's going to be a salary cap. I hate it, and I hate everything it represents. But the owners and the players, for the most part, brought this on themselves. It's not quite as big a deal as it used to be because most owners are learning how to manage the cap better. But the bottom line is that I cannot explain it.
Teams have continued to find ways to skirt the salary cap. Would you like to see the salary cap be a true, hard cap?
That's exactly my argument. If you want to have a salary cap, and you feel you have to have one – which I think is un-American – then let's have one. They supposedly have a cap in the NBA, but every time I turn around the Lakers find a way to sign Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The great teams always find a way. The Mavericks are willing to pay the luxury tax for certain players, yet other teams have owners that aren't. The idea of a cap was to make it fair so everybody across the board would have the same budget to work with. That's not the case. The 49ers started it. Danny Snyder in Washington continues it, and Jerry Jones was right in the middle of it. It just goes against everything that I believe in. In America, the free-market system should decide what the going rate is. Owners don't have a problem with this in every other business that they have been successful in. They don't overpay their lawyers. They don't overpay their receptionists. They don't overpay their salespeople. Why do they feel compelled to overpay their players? Pay a fare market rate and everybody will be fine. If you are going to have a salary cap, then let's just make it $70 million across the board and no up-front bonus money. I think it hurts performance on the field. It hurts the quality of the game itself and, did I mention, it's un-American?
When you hear the phrase "over the salary cap," does that make you laugh?
Oh, I laugh out loud. Danny Snyder spent like $170 million in a 90-day period and the next line was, he's under the cap. Please. What kind of a stupid cap is that? And Washington is going to be facing salary cap hell in the next year or two. The 49ers and Cowboys went through it. It doesn't work and that somewhat frustrates me. The owners insisted on a cap so that they could control expenses, and then they turn around and Jerry Jones is writing $15 million checks to Deion Sanders and Troy Aikman and Larry Allen. Certain owners have always been willing to spend more money than others and that, to me, is part of the competitive nature of anything. If the Bengals don't want to spend any money, then fine. The whole concept of a salary cap just drives me nuts.
A few years ago, the Cowboys had a veteran quarterback named Randall Cunningham who didn't want to start because he was not being paid "starter" money. Now, Vinny Testaverde says he doesn't want to go somewhere he won't start. What do you make of all of this?
It would seem like the Cowboys would have known about this weeks ago. I have never been a big believer that these teams don't know what's going on. They always say they haven't had any conversations because they can't until June 1. But, on June 2, Kerry Collins signs with the Raiders. Everybody knew it, except the Raiders and Kerry Collins, apparently. Maybe this stuff with Testaverde is just negotiating talk, and it probably is. I don't know how many teams are lining up to sign him as a starter. In a perfect world, I would rather have a guy who says he wants to be a starter than a guy who says he wants to carry a clipboard. That part of it I am happy to hear. If Testaverde is holding out because he wants to be a starter, then I would strongly suggest he go somewhere else.
So, do you think any of your co-workers at Ch. 8 ever went into their evaluations to complain to their bosses that Hansen was putting the company over the salary cap?
They can say it all they want, but nothing's going to change. That's also the point. I said this to Jerry Jones a couple of years ago: He's letting veteran players go and it's a salary-cap issue, and some people laugh at how naive that is. I would argue that in any business, when you start making talent decisions based on the salary, that's when the company gets hurt – whether it's a TV station, a newspaper or, in this case, an NFL team. You have to make decisions based on talent. And, good talent – just like me – will be fair when it comes to arriving at a salary.
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