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Players rally around union after Cromartie comments

Antonio Cromartie

The Monday remarks from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, coupled with a follow-up column from FOXSports.com’s Jason Whitlock, made us realize that, even though a lockout will place pressure on every player come September, when game checks begin to be missed, plenty of pressure will be placed on the subset players set to become free agents in March.

And some of those players will choose to vent that pressure.

Every March, multiple millions of dollars change hands in the 10 days or so after free agency launches, with rookie contracts expiring and other teams attempting to sign the now-veteran players.  Cromartie is among that crowd.  It will be even larger this year due to the realities of the uncapped year, which relegated many of the players who would have been unrestricted free agents to restricted free agency, essentially preventing them from cashing in with long-term deals.

Whitlock believes that players like Cromartie, who has multiple children and thus extensive child-support obligations, will become very antsy if they are blocked from getting paid.

How many players will hit the market this year?  It depends in large part on whether the new system requires an expired contract and four, five, or six years of service.  The official numbers will be released soon by the league and the NFLPA.  For now, media accounts have indicated that up to 28 in Carolina and as many as 27 in Minnesota will be waiting to get paid.

And the teams know it.  That’s why only a few impending free agents have received new contracts.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah dismissed during a Wednesday appearance on PFT Live the possibility that the union will cave once players set to be free agents begin to clamor for their money.  “Your previous guest [Whitlock] needs to know I’m not making any preparations to write a concession speech any time soon,” Atallah said.  “The players are used to being underdogs in the business context for years.  De [Smith] was not expected to be the executive director of the NFLPA yet he was selected by the platers to be their leader through this.

“People have their opinions, they can say what they want to say,” Atallah added.  “But frankly he gave us a gift.  Right after he posted his column I clicked ‘send’ to every player rep and almost every player in the NFL so that they could see what other people think of them.  They know they’re behind; they know what they’re up against.  But strength doesn’t come from speaking out strongly.  Strength comes from a quiet resolve to prepare themselves and to negotiate as hard as possible and I think they’ve done that.”

That said, plenty have begun to speak out strongly.  As Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal noticed on Wednesday night, many of the clients of agent Drew Rosenhaus were posting statements of support for Smith and the union on Twitter, and Rosenhaus was echoing them via the ever-masculine-sounding process of “re-Tweeting.”  Also, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett disagreed with Cromartie’s assessment of the situation.

We have leaders,” Dockett said. “We know what is fair and the players are behind our leadership.”

“Great leaders are servants first,” Lewis said.  “That is who our leaders are.  Players are not going to turn on each other. We are blessed with what we have and it is on all of us to keep it fair.  I’m resolved to do that.”

Of course, neither Dockett nor Lewis are due to become free agents on March 4.  Thus, other than any workout bonuses they may be due to earn, Dockett and Lewis lose nothing until September.

It could be an important distinction to keep in mind over the next several weeks.  Players whose shot at free agency will be indefinitely delayed in the event of a lockout will be more likely to complain.  Players who already have banked a signing bonus and who won’t lose any real money until September are more likely to help circle the wagons.

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20 Responses to “Players rally around union after Cromartie comments”
  1. cup1981 says: Jan 27, 2011 8:27 AM

    If these morons that make $3,000,000 plus per season cannot make ends meet and go bankrupt because they miss a half a season or so, it’s their own damn fault. Learn to save, you never know when your career will end, so live like you won’t be playing tomorrow.

    Even the guys that are on the veteran and rookie minimums should have though and saved. Give me a $350K salary for one year, thats about $175K after taxes and I will make that last me 5+ years. Its all about living within your means and planning for tragedy but hoping for fortune.

  2. jameswestphal says: Jan 27, 2011 8:33 AM

    Antonio Cromartie of the Super Bowl champion New York Jets? With the 8 kids, of whom, 60% are the exact same age? Right, it matters what he thinks.

  3. jc1958coo says: Jan 27, 2011 8:50 AM

    it’s either stick together one and all, or let the owners win with the devide and conquer method!! that’s it you have a guy’s back in the game, why not after?

  4. jc1958coo says: Jan 27, 2011 8:51 AM

    divide my bad

  5. wryly1 says: Jan 27, 2011 8:55 AM

    Bottom line? Players aren’t going to get more out of this than they already have, so not sitting down and getting the new CBA done, is not only counter-productive, but merely stalling or delaying the inevitable at their own expense. Duh! Yes, labor disputes can be complex, but this one couldn’t be simpler.

  6. bluepike says: Jan 27, 2011 8:56 AM

    I’ve said this before – what is needed is a “lock-in”. Principles from both parties meet at a designated hotel and nobody leaves until there is an agreement.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand why nobody from either side doesn’t push for a “lock-in”. Also, why don’t all of the “talking heads” in the media start bringing pressure to bear on both sides to do this? It makes no sense to me for them not to do this.

    Let’s get this “lock-in” started immediately after the Super Bowl and come to a fair agreement. Anyone who is not in favor of this – from either side – is one of the “bad guys”. End of story.

  7. steeelfann says: Jan 27, 2011 9:29 AM

    DaMaurice Smith’s ego is going to kill the players. It is all about him.

    The Owners are correct in a number of ways, but the huge thing that just about all fans agree with is the money that is paid to first round rookies. It is a stupid waste of money to pay non-performers that kind of money as well as giving so much money to agents. Agents are almost useless in a slotting system. If the NFL and players could agree to a structure where all first round players get the same bennies, same extras, and slotted in a sane budget, you could save millions and pass much of it on to the veterans. Instead, they give it to agents who do nothing more but step in and take a huge slice of money but add nothing to the game.
    It is ridiculous to pay players like JaMarcus Russell, Darius Haywood-Bey, Troy Williamson, etc. (one can go on and on)millions of dollars for producing almost nothing(kinda like lawyers).
    To boot, it goes up on the high picks every year 5%-10% and sometimes more. Where is the logic, where is the payback. Makes no sense.

    Bottom line is the NFL is a choice. Yes, there is always the threat of a career ending injury, but the fact is, nobody is forced to play in the NFL. That is the risk and you can go do your life’s work instead of the NFL or after the NFL.

  8. livenbreathefootball says: Jan 27, 2011 9:37 AM

    The players ALWAYS crack. They always split between those who need the money or just love playing the game no matter what and those who stand by the union no matter what.

  9. 23chameleons says: Jan 27, 2011 9:48 AM

    “Strength doesn’t come from speaking out strongly. Strength comes from a quiet resolve …” – George Atallah, NFLPA Spokeperson

    Really ? Isn’t it the NFLPA’s side that’s the loudest, talking about preparing for a lockout, spending their time and money making commercials to gain public support, calling this “war” ? Wouldn’t it be the NFL that’s saying, “Let’s get to the table, let’s have non-stop negotiations, let’s get this resolved” ?

    “Players are not going to turn on each other”.
    – Ray Lewis

    Somebody tell that to Jay Cutler …

  10. jfluke65 says: Jan 27, 2011 9:51 AM

    It’s not just the bonus money that the free agents have to worry about. They also have to worry about where they will be living in September. Those with kids need to have them enrolled in school, and might be more worried about the affects of a last minute move on their family. Especially since many of them won’t be getting the big bonuses.

  11. jcaro5566 says: Jan 27, 2011 9:57 AM

    The fans needs a seat at the bargaining table as well. Because whatever ultimately gets worked out, the fans will end up suffering the most through their pocketbooks. Just think if we could ever unite as fans it could actually be affordable again to take your family to a game. Some things I would demand are ticket prices adjusted back down to 1960’s prices and then only increased based on a cost of living index, 25% of tickets available week to week, 25% of season ticket holders from each team would have access to super bowl tickets, and concesssion prices could not be more than 10% above normal prices. Now woldn’t that be nice.

  12. manning10g says: Jan 27, 2011 10:00 AM

    What amazes me is the fake position of power that the “owners” feel they occupy.
    I am not very informed on the proceedings, but I will be very curious to see how they would defend themselves in court if they get sued by a decertified NFLPA union. The NFL is a legal monopoly and should be damn happy about it. They are having their cake and eating it too.
    In a perfect world after a year of no football all players should aggregate and form teams that belong to the city that paid for their stadium. Give the owners a free ticket ;-D.

  13. savocabol1 says: Jan 27, 2011 10:10 AM

    Forgive me if I don’t give once ounce of sympathy for these guys that make 6,7,8 digits worth of pay and can’t figure out how to support their family. Here is an idea….sell your bentley and get a ford, but they don’t want to do that. Whitlock and others that make claims that these players NEED the money is absurd.

  14. aldavisisthenfl says: Jan 27, 2011 10:32 AM

    the wolves are circling and beginning to move into separate packs……. how long before the cannibalism begins?

    this story is becoming more exciting than the Super Bowl……

  15. infectorman says: Jan 27, 2011 10:49 AM

    23chameleons says:
    Jan 27, 2011 9:48 AM

    “Players are not going to turn on each other”.
    – Ray Lewis

    Somebody tell that to Jay Cutler …
    *************************************
    Interestingly enough, 7-10 years ago no one in the public would have known what MJD thought of Jay Cutler, or what Darnell Dockett thinks about virtually everything he “tweets” about.

    Modern day social media tools and apps have made the NFL into an transparent shell of itself, with every player having the ability to blurt out, via Internet Protocol, every assinine, myopic, un-thought-out comment that comes to their concussed minds.
    I used to have alot of respect for these players based mainly on their athletic/physical abilities. But now after being able to “peek under the covers”, with modern IT media, I realize much more than ever before, that there aren’t alot of redeeming qualities with these guys. They will eat their own, if they believe it will increase their hits on Twittier. It’s becoming a game of one-ups-man-ship in “social” media arena, and it is UGLY…
    But no one cn turn away from a train wreck, try as you might

  16. weakafceast says: Jan 27, 2011 11:09 AM

    Man, did the AFC (L)east choke this year or what? 14-2 PATS bigger chokers than the 06 Bolts under Marty & self proclaimed champion Jest. I knew it. The arrogance of the collective fanbase in the northeast is laughable.

  17. worldsgreatest says: Jan 27, 2011 11:10 AM

    $175,000 for a year of football is not a lot of money. Just saying.

    If you’re the sole bread winner of a family that has multiple children and can make that meager amount last five years…kudos.

    It works out to $35,000 a year. Good luck.

  18. worldsgreatest says: Jan 27, 2011 11:13 AM

    When two of the other big four have unions that get them guaranteed contracts in the tens of millions, I think football players whose careers last about a third of the time as that of a basketball or baseball player have a pretty valid reason to strike.

    Not a single one of us knows what these dudes actually take home, net.

  19. bensstinkyfingers says: Jan 27, 2011 11:16 AM

    Ohhhh, th drama , you poor whiny millionaires bickering with the billionaires over who gets more of the pie. Don’t forget about the real peoplr who pay your bills, when we can barely pay ours each week.We would love to have your”problems”. How about giving back to the fans, with cheaper tickets prices etc. Figure it out DIVAS!

  20. hitdog042 says: Jan 27, 2011 12:17 PM

    Once they iron out an agreement for the owners to ratify, they (the owners) will all vote YES except for Mike Brown.

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