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NFL players’ union preparing for the worst

DeMaurice Smith

A day after the league’s chief negotiator met with the media here in Dallas, it was NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith’s turn. And like NFL negotiator Jeff Pash, Smith seems prepared for a lockout.

“Every player and former player on this dais has heard me say, ‘Tell our players to prepare for the worst even when you’re hoping for the best,’” Smith said, flanked on the stage by current and former union members. “We intend to never give up talking about what’s fair for our players, what’s fair for their families, what’s fair for former players and what’s fair for future players.”

Smith indicated that the NFLPA is ready to decertify and go to court if the owners lock the players out, and he hammered away at the theme that it’s the players who want to play, and the owners who are planning a lockout that would deprive fans of football.

“Only one side can lock us out,” Smith said.

Smith dismissed Pash’s claim that everyone agrees that the players got a one-sided deal on the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“My guess is there probably is a little bit of disagreement,” Smith said. “It would be an understatement to say that there’s disagreement. there’s fundamental disagreement.”

NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said the players are concerned that a lockout would turn fans away, as work stoppages in other sports have.

“Our message has always been the same and will always remain the same: This business is built on the fans’ interest,” Mawae said. “Without the players there is no game.”

Mawae also responded to the controversy that erupted when Antonio Cromartie ripped union leadership, and then in turn was ripped by some of his fellow players.

“We’re a family,” Mawae said. “I have four brothers. My brother and I fight all the time and don’t get along, but at the same time we’re still family. It’s the same thing with Cromartie. . . . I represent him just like I represent the others.”

Although Smith didn’t specifically say that expanding the regular season to 18 games is a deal breaker, he strongly suggested that the union considers that an issue on which there’s no wiggle room.

“Any change in the season that increases the risk of injury, increases the risk of concussion, increases the risk of a long-term consequence of playing football, has the potential to shorten careers . . . anything that does that is not in the interests or the best interests of the players in the National Football League,” Smith said. “That’s going to be our position.”

Asked by a reporter from Armed Forces Radio Network about being quoted by the New York Times as using the word “war” to describe the negotiations, Smith didn’t back down.

“Did you read the rest of the article? There were another 1,900 words after the first,” Smith said. “I’m not sure that any of the guys I talk to shy away from blunt language.”

So let’s be blunt: Both sides have a lot of work to do in the next month if they want to avoid a lockout.

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44 Responses to “NFL players’ union preparing for the worst”
  1. jc1958coo says: Feb 3, 2011 5:08 PM

    good idea! once the sh*t hits the fan i think it’ll only get worse!

  2. johnclaytonswag says: Feb 3, 2011 5:11 PM

    There overpayed! Make them play an extra game!

  3. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Feb 3, 2011 5:12 PM

    Are you guys going to end EVERY article about this like that?

  4. cincinnasti says: Feb 3, 2011 5:13 PM

    The lockout is the union’s fault.. They have no leverage and are being stubborn about holding out.. The NFL has all the leverage and seems to be committed to preventing a lockout..

  5. zombiebradshaw says: Feb 3, 2011 5:22 PM

    The more smith talks, the more im actually hopping that owners lock these ungrateful pricks out and show them how things work in the real world. For alot of these players, its a lesson far too long in comming.

    Last i checked, you either take what the boss offers, or you find somewhere else to work. If it means no football for a year, but better football forever, so be it.

    Sorry for PFT writers having to get other jobs for that time, but such is life.

  6. xpensivewinos says: Feb 3, 2011 5:23 PM

    Define the “worst?”

    If most of these jag-offs didn’t live a billion times above their means, they would already be set for life. Many obviously not for various reasons, but the players should have already had a plan in place coming in to this year knowing their 2010 wages needed to last for two years.

    You can kinda tolerate the player’s case right up until they want to be portrayed as “poor little us.”

    That’s when reality kicks in and I hope the owners bury them.

    Until the players assume even one penny of financial risk, the owners are entitled to make as much as they want. Employees do not dictate the percentage of profits their employers make. End of story.

  7. stinkfingers says: Feb 3, 2011 5:23 PM

    Get a deal done, idiots. Don’t kill the golden goose.

  8. paulnoga says: Feb 3, 2011 5:25 PM

    Hopefully, after the Super Bowl, we won’t have to listen to this stupid bickering on both sides.
    My advise to both the Owners and Players: quit this juvenile posturing and complaining in the press. Sit down by yourselves, stay out of the press until the deal is done or finished.

  9. duanethomas says: Feb 3, 2011 5:31 PM

    As Clemenza said in The Godfather in times for the Union to ” go to the mattresses”. Only they will be lead by D.Smith and will have their dignity and pride taken. They will limp back on the field next year for the 18 game season, rode hard and put away wet. Its about the money and the players havent saved enough to have a prolonged fight. The pressure will come from their families, agents (who will need their 3%) and finances in that order.

  10. jamie54 says: Feb 3, 2011 5:33 PM

    Well, duh, they’ve had literally years to prepare for the worst, should be no surprise.

  11. zimaman says: Feb 3, 2011 5:38 PM

    leave it to the union to take the fun out of super bowl week. i am sick and tired of all their gum flapping!

    keep it up union brothers.

    if anyone can ruin pro football dont worry it will be the NFLPA

    just ask the UAW. We used to export cars to other countries – remember those days. we had people working in factories – good paying jobs. we actuallly bought what they made here in the USA and we actually shipped some of that product overseas and people bought them and sent their money over here.

    i am not making this up. it’s true.

  12. rushbacker says: Feb 3, 2011 5:39 PM

    Smith indicated that the NFLPA is ready to decertify and go to court if the owners lock the players out, and he hammered away at the theme that it’s the players who want to play, and the owners who are planning a lockout that would deprive fans of football.

    “Only one side can lock us out,” Smith said.
    __________________

    I hope they understand that they’re NOT going to generate any sympathy with this junk. Most fans have zero interest in taking sides. We want football, not excuses and finger-pointing. Get your asses to the bargaining table and quit wasting time with the court of public opinion!

  13. randolph32 says: Feb 3, 2011 5:40 PM

    More BS, can’t these guys come up with something new to tell us?

  14. zinck99 says: Feb 3, 2011 5:45 PM

    If the last agreement was all in the players favor then maybe they should give a little this time and stop the lockout.

  15. tantrim says: Feb 3, 2011 5:48 PM

    I would say losing pay and medical coverage might be high on their list. Don’t give me that they worry what the fans will feel about them.

  16. lowleadman says: Feb 3, 2011 5:50 PM

    If there is a lockout, that is really going to screw up business as usual. If there is a lockout that only means that both sides will dig their heels in and this will become a protracted and lengthy strike.

    If there is a lockout, you won’t be able to sign free agents or trade picks for players, and on the players side, those that are free agents will remain so since no team can sign one. That will affect the quality of the draft as well as the preperation for the upcoming season. The NFL is a cash cow for both the players as well as the owners. Some owners less than others, and that’s why we are where we are. For the fans, it really sucks to think that there may be no football this upcoming year. If it comes to that, we will find something else to do and won’t be so eager to return to the Billionaire/Millionaire Club and gleefully cheer them on. Tally ho!! They are NOTHING without our support. Methinks they forget that little piece of data, mostly.

  17. unionslie says: Feb 3, 2011 5:50 PM

    De just wants a fair deal and won’t back down from any of his points even though it’s widely excepted that the current deal leaned heavily in the favor of the players.

    And De said: “Without the players there is no game.” Please, there’ll just be no NFLPA players playing football. There will always be professional football, and it will always rival all other professional sports.

  18. theo547 says: Feb 3, 2011 5:51 PM

    “Any change in the season that increases the risk of injury, increases the risk of concussion, increases the risk of a long-term consequence of playing football, has the potential to shorten careers . . . anything that does that is not in the interests or the best interests of the players in the National Football League,” Smith said. “That’s going to be our position.”

    ==============================

    Apparently Goodell isnt the only one who wants to start up a flag football league.

    Im not for 18 games, but seriously this guy needs to shut up and stop being so political about what hes trying to get done.

    If you want to do the players a favor – GET THE DEAL DONE AND LET THEM PLAY! – I am completly convinced that Smith is the problem. Not because he wont bow down to what the league wants, but because he will not BEND… you are the face of 500 MILLIONAIRES – the public doesnt care about there family\physical problems.

    FIGURE IT OUT!

  19. jameswestphal says: Feb 3, 2011 5:56 PM

    And the Jets still haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1969.

  20. vtboarder says: Feb 3, 2011 6:01 PM

    Pay me a punter’s salary (less bennies) and I’ll let you kick me in the ovaries once a day until I die.

  21. scytherius says: Feb 3, 2011 6:04 PM

    When greedy billionaires are involved, always expect the worst.

  22. commoncents says: Feb 3, 2011 6:08 PM

    If both sides insist on winning, we all lose. It’s a staring contest, someone please blink.

  23. abshire22 says: Feb 3, 2011 6:11 PM

    Once again Smith shows a complete lack of class. Given the chance to back off the war rhetoric, he can’t bring himself to be gracious but instead berates the reporter from Armed Forces Radio.

  24. smellmyface says: Feb 3, 2011 6:13 PM

    This idiot that claims all he cares about is the players is going to screw them over. Wanna be politician would argue money was purple if the NFL said it was green.

  25. southyank7 says: Feb 3, 2011 6:38 PM

    lockout- strike…tomato..tomato’…apples oranges..
    life is too short to be dealing with this…when men/women fight around the world for this pathetic country…& freedom ( which we are losing more n more everyday) take away the antitrust from NFL…

  26. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 3, 2011 6:42 PM

    cincinnasti says: Feb 3, 2011 5:13 PM

    “The lockout is the union’s fault.. ”

    Uhm… if the players elect to walk, it’s called a strike.
    If the owners close up shop, it’s called a lockout.

    Please explain how a “lockout” would be the player’s fault.

    Your premise is like saying it’s the murder victim’s fault they’re dead.

  27. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 3, 2011 6:43 PM

    Owners: Give us 18 games.
    Players: Fire Goodell.
    Owners: Done.

  28. sdboltaction says: Feb 3, 2011 6:44 PM

    Hell if they play a season with scabs, I’ll go tryout for the Cardinals.

  29. football2011 says: Feb 3, 2011 6:54 PM

    What People do and How much they get paid

    Doctors: They heal the sick. Average Salary about $400,000.

    Engineers: They build the infrastructure that makes the modern world possible. Average Salary $75,000.

    Teachers: They educate our young givng them better and more productive lives. Average salry about $60,000.

    Police officers: They ensure our physical well being and preserve order. Average Salry $50,000.

    Firefighter: Save lives. Average salary $65,000.

    Football players: They chase a hunk of inflated leather a round a field. The average NFL player salary for the year 2009 was around US $770,000. The average base salary of an NFL player in 2009 was around US $990,000. The average NFL player signing bonus salary for all players in 2009 was approximately US $1.3 million.

    Nuff said.

    I hope the owners crush those greedy buggers.

  30. gpete1962 says: Feb 3, 2011 6:57 PM

    Not that I feel sorry for the players or the owners but if the players had any balls or brains they’d boycott the Superbowl.

    in regards to all this union crap they spew I’ve never heard of any union worker who makes on average 10 million in 10 years.

    the fans and the concession workers at the stadium will be the only people getting screwed in this lockout.

    and I’ll never feel sorry for those greedy Pr*ck PSL charging owners like Mara, Tish, Jones and Johnson. I hope they all go broke.

    I’m not a Pats fan but at least Kraft had the decency not to Rape his fans after building his new Stadium

  31. chaz1975 says: Feb 3, 2011 6:58 PM

    The owners had a bad deal shoved down their throat last time as Tags basically begged them to take it so he could retire without this hanging over his head. A few months ago it seemed like a foregone conclusion that there would be an 18 game schedule but now the union is saying no way, which means they are even further apart from a new CBA. What is the big deal about 2 more games? There will be 2 less preseason games, heck college doesn’t need any but the pros need 4? They talk like they are trying to add 8 more games to the schedule. 2 more will not make that big of a difference, except in the money department, which would go a long way towards solving this. The general public seems to be more and more on the owner’s side so the players better be ready to give some concessions. De doesn’t want to give up anything. If that doesn’t change they need to boot his ass.

  32. gpete1962 says: Feb 3, 2011 7:04 PM

    The 18 game season issue is easy to solve.

    Just eliminate 2 of the 4 preseason games (that the Pr*ck owners charge full ticket prices for) and start to televise some of the teams live scrimmages

  33. sc2115 says: Feb 3, 2011 7:19 PM

    Last i checked, you either take what the boss offers, or you find somewhere else to work.

    And the last time I checked, when you were the only one who could do your job, and your boss made billions off your work, they don’t have standing to cut your salary.

  34. sc2115 says: Feb 3, 2011 7:21 PM

    I hope the owners crush those greedy buggers.

    Football players make that much because their sport is incredibly profitable. You eat what you kill, and the NFL is the biggest hunter on the block. If the game was less profitable, the players would make less. Econ 101.

  35. sc2115 says: Feb 3, 2011 7:23 PM

    The lockout is the union’s fault.. They have no leverage and are being stubborn about holding out.. The NFL has all the leverage and seems to be committed to preventing a lockout..

    So the players should accept less pay for more work, while at the same time their business is incredibly profitable. How does that make sense. This lockout is the result of greedy owners who can’t be satisfied with making only billions every year.

  36. gpete1962 says: Feb 3, 2011 7:24 PM

    chaz1975 says: Feb 3, 2011 6:58

    . A few months ago it seemed like a foregone conclusion that there would be an 18 game schedule but now the union is saying no way, which means they are even further apart from a new CBA. What is the big deal about 2 more games? There will be 2 less preseason games, heck college doesn’t need any but the pros need 4? They talk like they are trying to add 8 more games to the schedule.
    ______________________________________
    the difference between college and pros are, the colleges basically have much bigger roster than the pros.

    Lets see, what can the NFL owners do ?

    Hey!! I’ve got an a good idea. Increase the pro roster from 55 to 65. Remember Owners this isn’t rocket science.

    You never hear the players complain about the possible 4 extra games they have to play if there in the playoffs. also, I’ve never heard a player side with the fans about the PSL’s the owners implemented.

  37. jc1958coo says: Feb 3, 2011 7:35 PM

    the lock out is the unions fault? i heard dumb things but that takes the cake! it’s NOT a strike, there i one yr left on thee agreement and the OWNERS opted out! like LOCK OUT! what an idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. krow101 says: Feb 3, 2011 7:44 PM

    The players say that the Golden Goose should be roasted, while the owners insist on broiling it.

    Multi-millionaires complaining to billionaires that they’re underpaid… while the billionaires cry poverty back at them.

    It’s really kind of comical.

  39. commandercornpone says: Feb 3, 2011 7:45 PM

    a lockout would be the players’ union head’s fault. and they picked him. he isnt negotiating at all.

    the owners CAN get more players, as some have pointed out. they wouldnt be members of the NFLPA, but the quality of play would catch up quicker than one thought. the current batch of roid-ragers is not irreplaceable. hey wil lall be replaced some day soon anyway. and since they need the money now, they will cave or decertify (effectively firing duh).

    the union is ready to be decertified anyway. duh smith just doesnt want it to happen on his watch.

    he was a poor choice. the players were snookered.

  40. greggfletch1 says: Feb 3, 2011 8:05 PM

    First off, The CBA ends this year. Second, Unions are a good thing but they have gone too far and ruined the idea for most of us. Third, yes the owners make a lot of money but the players are not losing any, if we change to an 18 game schedule they will get paid for the extra two games. Fourth, part of bargining is putting a lot on the table and taking off some from both sides to find a reasonable solution. Fifth, the players dont realize that there is more college (and other) players that would be more than happy to cross a picket line to make half what the so called stars make. We want to watch football, and we will watch so called lower talent players, no matter what. Football is football and a game is still a game. The players problem is that they have no leverage, we will watch other players while they sit on the couch.

  41. 49erman says: Feb 3, 2011 8:14 PM

    I don’t care who is more at fault. Just get a deal done that works for both the players and the owners, period!

    Sadly, I do not see an agreement before March 3rd and we will be heading toward disaster.

  42. trimgod69 says: Feb 3, 2011 8:36 PM

    the NFL has become a joke. nobody plays for the love of the game anymore, they’re afraid of getting hurt(might as well play flag-football), the owners, and players both disgust me. They’ll end up shooting theirselves in the foot with this CBA, or lack thereof…………………SHUT-UP AND PLAY FOOTBALL BITCHES!

  43. bigz54 says: Feb 3, 2011 9:00 PM

    I don’t about everyone else but I’m thinking replacement players. If they want to be greedy then let’s have someone to watch.

  44. anthonyfromstatenisland says: Feb 4, 2011 6:28 AM

    All the union has to do – well not all, but a big thing – is to publicly and loudly request a 12.5% across-the-board pay raise, in that 18 is 12.5% more than 16, for all players presently under contract, while going out of their way to point out that the owners will be getting a 17.6% “pay raise” from the TV networks because with an extra bye week for each team as part of the deal – which the owners have already gone on record as not opposing – the number of weeks during the regular season will increase from 17 to 20.

    The union then comes across as being eminently reasonable, and scores some serious points in the public-relations battle.

    And the off-season can become one week LONGER if: 1. The Hall Of Fame Game is folded into Week 1 of preseason rather than held the week before, and 2. This stupid idle week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl is eliminated – and since the players on the two Super Bowl teams don’t play in the Pro Bowl anymore and everyone seems to be cool with that, the Pro Bowl can be held the night before the Super Bowl (or the night after). Plus eliminate all mandatory off-season OTAs – didn’t the league work just fine in the ’70s and ’80s when these spring mini-camps didn’t exist?

    Both sides need to stop posturing and start seriously talking – and the players need to stop tilting at windmills by actually believing they can stop the 18-game schedule.

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