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AJ McCarron supports Northwestern effort to unionize college players

AJ McCarron AP

At least one prominent name is backing Northwestern’s attempts to organize a union for college football players.

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron told USA Today on Wednesday that he thinks it’s a good thing for the sport to have someone to look out for the players.

“I think eventually they need to do something like Coach Saban said (that athletes should get additional financial support beyond scholarships)… there’s so much money being made by the NCAA, by all these athletes …” McCarron said.

Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and the newly-formed College Athletics Players Association announced their intentions to unionize on Tuesday. McCarron hopes that it will eventually lead to a more equitable outcome for student athletes.

“It’s almost a somewhat a bad deal the players aren’t getting some of (the money) especially when the jerseys are getting sold, they’re getting used for video games,” added McCarron. “Personally I think it’s good for college athletes — hopefully down the line they’ll start getting paid somewhere.”

McCarron, the 2013 Heisman runner up, is currently preparing for this spring’s NFL draft.

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34 Responses to “AJ McCarron supports Northwestern effort to unionize college players”
  1. biggestredmiami says: Jan 29, 2014 7:14 PM

    AJ McCarron did not enjoy the Grammys and supports Northwestern’s efforts… Thank you, CFT, for an awesome week of AJ McCarron news.

  2. mauldawg says: Jan 29, 2014 7:43 PM

    Let them unionize, but they then must pay to go to school. Most of these players don’t understand a fee education.

  3. irishdodger says: Jan 29, 2014 8:15 PM

    Decades ago the NFL absorbed the upstart AFL. Later, the NBA absorbed some of the ABA. Then the USFL had success signing big name college stars. It’s obviously a fruitless proposition to go up against a behemoth like the NFL in this day & age…but…why hasn’t a group tried to form a professional minor league system of football? The NFL is too greedy to do it themselves, but I think the time has come. Let’s face it 99.9% of D1 players believe they will be among the few to play professionally….they have zero interest in getting a degree, so let them play with/against comparable athletes on a pro level but a minor league setting? It would also reduce the crazy money that college institutions are raking in so it’d be a nice wake up call for those greedy bastards. As a fan, I’m open to discussion on a stipend or one no penalty transfer or guaranteed four year scholarships….but I’ll never buy into a bunch of union goons running college football for the same greedy ambition that they lash out against.

  4. 1990tiger says: Jan 29, 2014 8:18 PM

    biggestredmiami says:
    AJ McCarron did not enjoy the Grammys and supports Northwestern’s efforts… Thank you, CFT, for an awesome week of AJ McCarron news.
    I agree. I am so relieved to know McCarron supports the Northwestern players. I’ve been waiting to find out his position on the issue. I will sleep well tonight.

  5. germanflats13a38 says: Jan 29, 2014 8:22 PM

    Most of them don’t understand the follow:

    NFL is never going to draft 18 yr olds, and will never fund minor league football.

    Minor League Football would be the same as Minor League Baseball. Players would be anonymous, and with no tradeable value to their right to publicity.

    College football players fame is tied to their schools, the school trains them for future jobs, and players gain a benefit from the education and sports training they receive that is not available in any other market.

    If college players become employees then their full compensation would be taxable, and their scholarship is probably reasonable.

    Every time a player signs a picture of themselves in their college football uniform for money and fail to compensate the schools for making money off the schools trademarks they are violating the schools right of publicity.

    Paying college football players will double ticket price, reducing the value of the entertainment that is inherent inferior to the NFL.

  6. gatorcheme says: Jan 29, 2014 8:29 PM

    Has anyone bothered to ask Tebow what he thinks?
    😉 Yep, I went there. 😉

  7. gatorcheme says: Jan 29, 2014 8:33 PM

    On a more serious note, I agree with germanflat13a38. With the added statement that if the NFL should ever decide to create a minor league (and it won’t), that will be the death knell of college football as we know it.

  8. germanflats13a38 says: Jan 29, 2014 8:33 PM

    Oh, and Colleges aren’t selling a players jersey, when they don’t add a name to the back. Tell me whose jersey Alabama is selling when they sell a number 12 jersey: Paul Bryant, Kenny Stabler, Joe Namath, Greg McElroy, Brodie Croyle, etc? Tell me whose jersey USC is selling when they sell a number 55 jersey?

  9. thefiesty1 says: Jan 29, 2014 9:27 PM

    Does this require an NCAA investigation of the Alabama program?

  10. js20011041 says: Jan 29, 2014 10:33 PM

    The schools simply don’t have the money to afford to pay players. Sure, maybe Texas or Ohio St, or Alabama do. But the vast majority of schools do not make enough money. All of it gets spent on supporting the athletic department as a whole and I can guarantee you this; if football players are getting paid, you can bet that ALL collegiate athletes are going to make a case for getting paid. Schools will not be able to afford this, so they will cut sports. Between paying players and title IX, most schools are going to be forced to cut most of their athletic teams. In other words, in order to placate the few players who are eventually going to get paid (NFL/NBA) anyway, we’re going to take scholarship and athletic opportunities away from the many.

  11. hehateme1 says: Jan 29, 2014 11:13 PM

    Thinking outside of the box…but still stupid. Nobody’s forcing you to play football.

  12. vincentbojackson says: Jan 29, 2014 11:53 PM

    I was patiently waiting for AJ McCarron to weigh in before I formed an opinion on the topic.

  13. normtide says: Jan 30, 2014 1:06 AM

    I agree with Irishdodger. Stipend and 4 year scholarships, but nothing else. Also agree that most programs can’t afford to pay their players. 90% of the programs would fold. Also, most teams have no more than 3 bankable stars. Fans don’t follow punters, long snappers, etc. . And what of title nine? How long before law suits arise from volleyball players? This will destroy college athletics, plain and simple.

  14. louhudson23 says: Jan 30, 2014 4:11 AM

    Extended scholarships and medical coverage can be paid for out of general merchandising funds. A stipend is also on the horizon. The NCAA is a very,very profitable organization in and of itself. They have the money and the courts are not going to allow them to continue to make it without cutting the players in. The emphatic emphasis on scholarships in exchange for pay(which is a fair and equitable exchange) is the crux of the matter and the courts will use it to limit the scope of the players obligation to “on the field”. Merchandising and tv money,in it’s various forms is not part of that transaction. Status quo will not and cannot remain. Getting in front of the issue is the smart move. As has been proven time and time again,making piles of money is not an indication of smarts,just an indication of the ability to make piles of money. A “Union” is simply a shot across the bow of the status quo and a clear signal that things are going to change. Kind of like McDonald’s workers going on strike…The worm has turned. Inevitability is like a slow starting train……Get out in front of it now or get run over by it later….

  15. psly2124 says: Jan 30, 2014 8:23 AM

    Unions don’t look out for there members or athletes in this case. They only look out for the union… Which are drenched in Marxist beliefs. Funny how the unions by laws mirror the communist manifesto.

  16. js20011041 says: Jan 30, 2014 8:33 AM


    That’s funny. Did you read that in your tea bagger manifesto? Does anyone think it’s a coincidence that the growing gap between the wealthy and the rest of the country and the disappearing middle class almost perfectly mirrors the fall of union membership? All of the rights we have as workers were fought for by unions. The anti union sentiment in this country is beyond ignorant. It’s actually harmfully stupid.

  17. normtide says: Jan 30, 2014 9:12 AM

    What did unions do to save Detroit or the rest of the rust belt? Unions did do some great things, but like everything else, they can’t just run unchecked. The union legacy is written all over the upper Midwest.

  18. js20011041 says: Jan 30, 2014 10:07 AM


    The manufacturing industry wasn’t done in by unions. It was done in by the fact that companies can pay people overseas a tiny fraction of pay for the same work, and machines performing the roles that humans used to. Even if unions didn’t exist, manufacturing jobs were not long for this country.

  19. thraiderskin says: Jan 30, 2014 10:16 AM

    If you pay football players as employees, then you must pay all student athletes at the institution. If they are employees and part of a colleges working class, the school has a right to cut unprofitable groups, tell me, how would this scenario work with title 9? Employees who are not of financial value to a company get fired, areas of a company who show no profit get cut. What girl’s sport turns a profit, what men’s sport, other that BB and FB, would be financially viable? These are all concept that a unionized work force will have to deal with.

  20. thraiderskin says: Jan 30, 2014 10:23 AM

    Js20011041, exactly what made those companies go looking for that foreign market? Unions have become greedy, self-serving and destructive to American industry. They are not about the workers, they are about the dues. There are now laws and regulations that more than adequately protect the mundane worker. Guys working an auto line do not need 10.00 an hour to push a damn button. Unions think everyone, no matter how trivial the position should get larger portions, and that concept is destructive and why our industry is where it is. Unions are suppose to make things fair, but the more money a worker gets, the more they expect in dues.

  21. js20011041 says: Jan 30, 2014 10:42 AM


    Are you proposing that we eliminate the minimum wage? Overtime pay? Standards for safety? The reason companies have shipped jobs overseas is not because of unions. It’s because they have de facto slavery in other countries. Workers overseas work far longer hours for far less in pay. They have no rights. No expectation of safety. No expectation of a retirement. The only way to get these jobs back in the country would be to eliminate many of the rights and freedoms that we enjoy. If this is what you’re advocating, congratulations. You’re a true republican.

  22. thraiderskin says: Jan 30, 2014 10:51 AM

    No im not proposing any of that… I’m saying Pandora’s box is opened and aggressive unions are the one’s who opened it. We have regulations that make most of what Unions were meant for obsolete. I am saying that some jobs are bare bones ground level jobs and barely deserve the minimum wage they offer.

  23. thraiderskin says: Jan 30, 2014 10:54 AM

    If a mentally handicapped person can do your job, you should be looking to advance positions, not joining a union to advance the pay.

  24. big64d says: Jan 30, 2014 12:42 PM

    AJ McCarron should worry more about unionizing the midsection of his smoking hot girlfriend or ex girlfriend if i got anything to say about it.

  25. Deb says: Jan 30, 2014 12:43 PM

    First, while AJ tweeted his thoughts on the Grammys, USA Today asked his opinion on unionizing players–which makes sense given that he quarterbacked a prominent team to two championships. His opinion is certainy as valid as those expressed by the armchair QBs posting here.

    Second, the NCAA and its member schools are raking in BILLIONS of dollars on the backs of these kids. The cost of their college education is a pittance compared with that. Football and basketball players pay for virtually every other sports program at their schools. Yes, many of them finish their educations and are able to use them to build a career after college and football. And that’s really quite remarkable given the sheer number of hours they’re required to devote to sports at the expense of their studies. I’d love to see how well the purely academic students would perform if they had to spend that many hours in sports practice.

    These kids don’t have time for jobs and many of them come from extremely poor backgrounds–that’s why they’re willing to compete in a sport that could leave them barely able to remember their own names by age 50. But while they rake in those BILLIONS of dollars for their schools, they’re not given a dime of expense money outside their tuition or allowed to accept so much as a taco from a fan. They can’t even spend the night with a girlfriend who receives an academic stipend from the university or the entire program could end up on probation (see LSU).

    The entire system is whacked, and the NCAA has refused to address these issues year after year after year. Now the kids are addressing it themselves. I’m a big supporter of the NFLPA, but no, I don’t think unionizing is the best way for college players to handle the issue. But that’s what happens when the NCAA just ignores it. Don’t blame the kids; blame the “brainiacs.”

  26. thraiderskin says: Jan 30, 2014 1:15 PM

    These schools are making their money off of a temporary “work force”, temps don’t get to unionize in the real world and these institutions do more for individual kids than those kids will ever do for the institutions. These kids arent the rock-solid pillars of college ball, they are echoes in a breeze. Do certain things need to change? Yes, but these kids aren’t eligible for unionization. Football is a privilege, they chose big time programs for the free exposure or they would have gone to the lower levels or would continue to fight the NFL for the right to participate. I don’t blame the kids, I blame the adults feeding this BS concept to them… they’re are not employees of these schools, they are not treated as employees by any “normal” definition and they should not be paid as such.

  27. normtide says: Jan 30, 2014 2:03 PM

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read about a company losing money and then the unions striking over more money and benefits. Three companies local to me went through this in the last decade. If unions actually worried about the workers, the would have offered pay cuts. They would not budge an inch. Not to mention, they insist on protecting unproductive workers. Further undermining the company. Add in the rampant corruption, and I see few modern advantages to unions. They were important back in the day, but are an anchor now.

  28. uffdatx says: Jan 30, 2014 5:08 PM

    The problem is the NCAA isn’t the one making the big bucks, it’s the schools. Another thing to remember is that Title IX requires schools to have equal opportunity for female atheletes. The football, men’s basketball, and at some schools, the woman’s basketball programs produce the revenues needed to subsidize all the other sports programs, which are net financial losers.

    First you start paying football players, then it will be the men’s basketball players, then the women’s basketball players and pretty soon all the other sports will need to be dropped except at the big and rich schools, whose football and basketball programs which make the big bucks needed to continue to field all the other sports.

  29. fsu01 says: Jan 30, 2014 5:14 PM

    I like the idea of full cost of tuition. This is not giving these student-athletes any more than a typical student with a “full ride” scholarship. However, the idea of them deserving pay is ridiculous. Deb’s arguments were almost all arguments for the institutions not the players. For example… They do not know what it is like to practice that many hours. That may be true, but a lot of students do work jobs that many hours to help pay for school. Another example is they are coming from poor families, if this is the case they may not have been able to go to college in the first place. But having said that, these players should be able to take place in the market economy. I have no problem with the student-athletes advertising for local businesses and selling their autographs (assuming they do not use the school’s name in the local business advertisement or in the pictures they are selling.) Another stipulation would be that the business cannot be owned or operated by a booster or agent nor can the autograph broker be a booster or agent and the player must negotiate his or her (yes there is no reason why female athletes can’t advertise) advertising deal.

  30. uffdatx says: Jan 30, 2014 5:22 PM

    Deb said “they’re not given a dime of expense money outside their tuition or allowed to accept so much as a taco from a fan”

    When I was in college [1980’s] the football players receieved the following as part of their scholarship: paid tuition and fees; free use of new textbooks; free room and board [the food was much better than what those of us paying students got for our room and board dollars]; free tutoring; and free game tickets for family members. Who needs a lousy taco from a fan when there’s steak and potatoes at the dorm cafeteria. They were treated like kings.

  31. germanflats13a38 says: Jan 30, 2014 9:00 PM

    Not a single high school player has the skill to go directly to the NFL. Without the training they receive in college, they wouldn’t be qualified for a job. How much would they pay for the training the receive in college. I’m sure IMG would train them for $50k per year. I don’t think they would receive the same level of training, exposure, or experience.

    Of course I would probably give them a better deal. A Scholarship that covers the full cost of college, and full medical. This doesn’t mean that the current deal is unfair.

  32. Deb says: Jan 30, 2014 10:13 PM

    @uffdatx …

    My post lambasted the “brainiacs” of college sports for ignoring this issue until the kids started unionizing out of desperation–something I do not support anymore than I support paying the kids a salary. I do support addressing this issue rather than ignoring it.

    Yes, we are talking about the NCAA-member institutions rather than the NCAA itself. I kind of thought that went without saying. And you cannot compare what those institutions earned in the 80s to the money we’re talking about in 2014. Today, signing up to play college sports means signing away LIFETIME rights to your name and likeness as a college player. The schools and companies like EA Sports rake in billions while many of these kids never see a dime of pro money because their careers end in injury or they simply aren’t good enough. It’s comparable to a Miley Cyrus selling lifetime rights to her name at 18 for $50,000. And it’s absurd.

    They’re not pros and don’t need to be paid like pros. But they should retain the rights to their names and likenesses–which seems to be what fsu01 is saying. And the courts will eventually rule in their favor on this anyway. Let them sell their own autographs–or at least get a percentage of what the school makes merchandising their names, etc. And pay them a small but reasonable stipend that covers clothes and other extras not provided for in their room and board. I doubt you ate every meal in the school cafeteria, so I can’t imagine why you think football players would never want to eat off-campus.

  33. normtide says: Jan 31, 2014 9:07 PM

  34. alligatorsnapper says: Feb 2, 2014 6:35 PM

    The thing I would like to see, is NCAA membership schools, and all others with athletic programs to:

    Offer catastrophic or major injury insurance to cover the athletes and take care of the premiums of this insurance as needed for life of the athlete. There should not be the expiration of policies once the athlete who suffered a crippling spinal injury after they exit schools and no longer have coverage for therapy and remaining surgeries as needed years later. As the Doc with SouthernPatriots has pointed out prior, the NFL offers this insurance for its players and ex-players, and needs to be done by the colleges.

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