The N.F.L.’s Blue-Collar Workers - New York Times But despite all the trappings of a modern business empire, football — or more specifically its labor system — harks back to the 19th century. Like miners and dock workers of that time, the N.F.L.’s work force has little protection against job loss. Workers frequently toil outdoors in freezing temperatures. And they often literally put their lives at risk, as we were reminded last week when a neuropathologist claimed that the suicide of a former N.F.L. player, Andre Waters, was linked to brain damage he sustained while playing football.Pitt guys are mentioned. And, these are not Pitt stars from the gridiron. Rather, Pitt doctors.
“It brings to mind the high-risk jobs of the earlier industrial period,” said Raymond Sauer, an economics professor at Clemson University and founder of the Sports Economist blog.
To be sure, football players, with their generous paychecks, do not seem as exploited as those rail-thin miners dusted with coal. But compared with athletes who ply their trades in two other big-money sports — basketball and baseball — they’re strictly blue collar.