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Lockout will create tension among teammates over offseason workouts

Josh Freeman, Jeff Faine, Jovan Belcher

Last month, Charley Casserly of CBS explained that, if/when a lockout comes, some teams will stay football-ready via player-organized workouts and practices.

Casserly said that one prominent quarterback has been scouting facilities that he and his teammates can use for player-organized practices.  Another coach gave his players at their final meeting “very organized practice plans for workouts and passing camps that they can do in the offseason.”

The Redskins made sufficient use of the down time during the 1982 and 1987 strikes to win the Super Bowl to cap each season.  But here’s the difference.  In ’82 and ’87, the players walked out.  This time around, the league would be slamming the door on the players.

And since workouts organized by the players would make coaches feel not as bad about not having access to the players and thus less inclined to insist to their owners that a deal get done, plenty of players will refuse to participate and/or try to persuade other players from doing so.

Case in point:  Buccaneers player rep Jeff Faine recently expressed pessimism regarding quarterback Josh Freeman’s plan to conduct workouts during a lockout.

“You’re not going to see Josh Freeman and our receiving corps down at the University of Tampa soccer field,” Faine told Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times (via JoeBucsFan.com).  “They might go out there and run some routes and throw.  But you’re talking about getting an entire receiving corps together being able to work against an entire defensive backs corps.  It’s just not going to happen.”

It’s hard to tell whether Faine was offering a prediction or making a guarantee.  Our guess is the latter, since Faine seems to realize the leverage that the players will build as the time for offseason workouts ticks away.

“We need preseason,” Faine said.  “We need training camp. We need the offseason.  I’m sure [General Manager] Mark Dominik knows we need it, but his hands are tied.  I hope the Glazers know we need it.”

On every NFL team, some players will want to focus on getting ready for the season and others will be trying to get the players to realize that doing so makes it harder to get a deal done on favorable terms.  If the league is going to lock out the players, the players need to shut it down.    Though it’s unrealistic to conclude that they’ll let themselves get out of shape, there’s a difference between running and lifting and conducting practice sessions without coaches present.

This dynamic adds significant risk to any wink-nod communications between coaches and players.  If the wrong player catches wind of it, the player will surely blow the whistle.

It’s yet another reason for a deal to be finalized before March 4 and not at some later point in the year.

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27 Responses to “Lockout will create tension among teammates over offseason workouts”
  1. pensacolavolfan says: Feb 17, 2011 8:52 PM

    You can bet Peyton will be conducting workouts.

  2. jc1958cool says: Feb 17, 2011 8:59 PM

    if there is a lockout, why would any player work out? what happens if he gets injured, is he still going to get his full contract?

  3. norvturnersneck says: Feb 17, 2011 9:10 PM

    Like Fat Albert will be in shape? Give me a break. Most of the vets will be soft and ready for an ACL tear if some of training camp is missed.

  4. assnfootball says: Feb 17, 2011 9:11 PM

    I can’t understand why some players are eager to work out.

    I’d give my body more than enough time to rest. Maybe gain some weight too.

  5. thespeaker08 says: Feb 17, 2011 9:14 PM

    Call me crazy but I agree with you on this one – it’s going to be a huge drama that will only impede the overall process if coaches help players workout.

  6. thetooloftools says: Feb 17, 2011 9:14 PM

    Yea, this reads great until someone gets hurt at these little player parties and they CAN’T get paid.
    This will never happen and if your a players and it’s any more then a walk through, walk away.
    If PFT here to report or fan flames?

  7. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Feb 17, 2011 9:21 PM

    Any NFL starting QB that doesn’t try and organize these workouts(can lead a horse to water but not force them to drink) should be demoted to 2nd string when the season eventually starts. Where is the pride? Where is the “want to”? And can you imagine being on a supposed competitive team and you’re not doing this when the competition is?

  8. eaglesnoles05 says: Feb 17, 2011 9:50 PM

    The good players who care about winning, team, and being the best will be practicing with as many other players on their teams that have the same mindset. The guys playing for money will not attend, and whine.

  9. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Feb 17, 2011 10:00 PM

    If I were in the owners’ shoes, I would declare a labor “impasse” on March 4 if the players are deemed not to be negotiating in good faith. That’s the smart move here, and not the more likely player lockout. That way, the league could seize the public relations high ground while implementing its best offer. If the players rejected it, they would strike, and the player defections—and growing public dissatisfaction—would begin.

  10. barmyinpalmy says: Feb 17, 2011 10:13 PM

    And when a starting WR tears their ACL and can’t walk let alone run for the next 6 months, and they don’t have insurance and they don’t have an income, is any NFL starting QB going to cover their expenses?

    Its hazard analysis, their is too much to lose and not enough gain by doing your own workouts.

  11. stanklepoot says: Feb 17, 2011 11:22 PM

    thetooloftools says: Feb 17, 2011 9:14 PM

    Yea, this reads great until someone gets hurt at these little player parties and they CAN’T get paid.
    This will never happen and if your a players and it’s any more then a walk through, walk away.
    If PFT here to report or fan flames?
    _________________________
    Exactly. If I were a superstar player who has already been paid a lot of money, I’d be motivated to prep for the upcoming season. Money wouldn’t be a concern, and the desire to win would drive me to work like a madman. For the others, however, the issue is quite different. When the owners lock out the players, their health care and access to free rehab facilities disappears overnight. If a player injures himself during one of these player-organized work outs, the player has to pay for their medical care and rehabbing out of pocket. What’s worse, if it’s a serious injury, their team won’t think twice to cut ties with them once the season starts up. So, now they have large medical bills to pay out of pocket and they have no job (unless they have a large guaranteed contract already). That simply has to be too big of a risk for many players.

  12. favrelous says: Feb 17, 2011 11:28 PM

    Favre will be working out at the high school and will ready.

  13. stanklepoot says: Feb 17, 2011 11:29 PM

    eaglesnoles05 says: Feb 17, 2011 9:50 PM

    The good players who care about winning, team, and being the best will be practicing with as many other players on their teams that have the same mindset. The guys playing for money will not attend, and whine
    _________________________
    I look at it a different way. The wealthy players who are financially secure and who have multi-year contracts should be willing to participate in player organized workouts. Players who aren’t as financially secure and who don’t have guaranteed spots on their team need to stay well clear of these work outs. What happens if they get injured? It happens all the time in training camp, even when they aren’t in full pads and hitting each other. If the owners lock out the players, their health care and access to free rehab facilities disappears overnight. They’d be left to pay all of these expenses out of pocket. The problem gets even worse if the injury is serious. They could end up with big medical bills and no job after their team cuts them (and if you don’t think the teams would do so you’re kidding yourself). We all want to see the players on our team show the drive it takes to win, but we have to understand that we’re talking about their lives and their careers as well.

  14. rudy112 says: Feb 17, 2011 11:32 PM

    Can’t wait for the arrest meter to explode.

  15. stanklepoot says: Feb 17, 2011 11:36 PM

    Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Feb 17, 2011 10:00 PM

    If I were in the owners’ shoes, I would declare a labor “impasse” on March 4 if the players are deemed not to be negotiating in good faith. That’s the smart move here, and not the more likely player lockout. That way, the league could seize the public relations high ground while implementing its best offer. If the players rejected it, they would strike, and the player defections—and growing public dissatisfaction—would begin.
    ____________________________
    True, but that would also take the negotiations from a conference room to the court room. It could also lead to serious anti-trust issues for the league. If anyone remembers the old USFL, they sued the league over monopolistic practices…and they won. Well, sort of. The NFL was found to be operating as an unregulated monopoly, but between the negative attention Donald Trump garnered and the fact that the USFL had already suspended playing games, the USFL was deemed to not have been really damaged by the NFL’s practices. As such, the USFL was given a joke of a monetary award (about $3). Still, the case does mean that there is already case law demonstrating anti-trust violations on the part of the NFL. Do they really want to dig under that rock again in court?

  16. bucngator says: Feb 18, 2011 12:08 AM

    Workouts can be covered with an insurance policy…… Faine is part of the reason they had to have a conference call to all the players!! Guys like him are spreading mis-information about player health insurance and the ability to purchase Cobra!!

    Faine can’t stay healthy and might lose his job to Zuttah. He should be happy he got lucky with an oil investment……. and get the hell outta Tampa. Don’t need your crybaby BS infecting the rest of a young roster!! Hit the bricks bub!!

  17. rooster1975 says: Feb 18, 2011 12:24 AM

    Dear Beloved Teammates,

    I am writing in response to your recent correspondence regarding player-organized workouts during the lockout. Although I have always been, and will always continue to be, all about the team, my thoughts regarding this workout plan can best be summarized in these few words: is y’all crazy?

    I didn’t have to work out last offseason even after I cashed Dan Snyder’s check for $21 million, so I’m struggling to understand why I should work out this offseason with no CBA in place. Alas, even if I were to overcome my initial reluctance and decide to join y’all, I have more pressing matters to attend to at the moment.

    So in closing, I wish y’all the best of luck, and I’ll be there with you at the workouts, if not in body, surely in mind and spirit.

    Very truly yours,
    Fat Albert

  18. jackdiesel says: Feb 18, 2011 1:18 AM

    Teams with established leaders especially at the QB position will be in better shape than teams with younger leaders, or no leaders at all.

    Advantage Saints, Colts, Patriots, Packers.

  19. 6thsense79 says: Feb 18, 2011 2:59 AM

    If players are locked out they should not be holding organized team work outs or they should not be pressurring other players to workout. Work out on your own and stay in shape.

    Player health insurance will be discontinued during the lockout meaning any injury that occurs during team workouts must be paid out of their pocket and if the player is injured bad enough a team might cut the player once the season resumes without having to pay on the remainder of his contract.

    There have been many instances in the past where a team will prevent a player from working out on team facilities because they are contemplating cutting the player before a certain date so they don’t have to pay them and they know if the player where to get injured during a team workout the team would be on the hook for the remaining salary or bonus. The season Steve McNair got cut from the Titans is a perfect example of this.

    Besides all that players, most of who live in different parts of the country, will have to pay out of pocket to get to one central location to practice. That may be nothing for those with multi million dollar deals but if you’re a player making the league minimum and who is no longer receiving a pay check you might want to spend that money on paying your mortgage and getting health insurance for your family.

  20. shallowfan says: Feb 18, 2011 7:53 AM

    I think these players who are going to work out on their own like Josh Freeman and the receivers will be running routes and learning the routes and getting timing down as well as keeping in shape lifting together.

    I don’t necessarily agree with those saying the players that don’t have big contracts should not work out with other players. If a player is ever going to cash in big he has to stay at the top of his game, which means not taking an off season off. If these players are going to sit around and whine about money and not stay in shape and play some ball they will never get a lot of the money they are fighting for.

    The lockout is going to end at some point and these guys need to be ready to play in a moments notice. There is nothing wrong with staying in shape and working with teammates.

    What happened last season when Revis missed training camp? Injury…you are going to see a lot of injuries when football resumes…less injuries by those players who are in football shape by working out and playing football.

  21. steeelfann says: Feb 18, 2011 8:40 AM

    I am so tired of hearing about the poor players and how much money they need, how important they are, blah, blah, blah. “Oh, what if I get hurt, what if my career ends after 3 years”. Hey, how about getting a REAL job then?

    I am hiring people for $13/Hour, no bennies. C’Mon down.

    I am also tired of the owners, especially those like Jerry Jones that try to cram thousands of extra people into the stands with no regard to safety. All about that idiot, isn’t it?

    I hope they lockout or strike or whatever for a long time. It will bring both of these stupid sides to possibly be thankful for what they have instead of what they do not.

    Further, my hat is off to Josh Freeman and anyone like him. He is a young man that wants to keep working to get better and is not caught up in the stupid politics. Go Josh, keep the attitude and don’t get mixed up with the mouthpieces.

  22. harrisonhits2 says: Feb 18, 2011 9:01 AM

    “And when a starting WR tears their ACL and can’t walk let alone run for the next 6 months, and they don’t have insurance and they don’t have an income, is any NFL starting QB going to cover their expenses?”

    @barmyinpalmy,

    What makes you think they won’t have insurance ? Yes, the horror of the player having to pay for it himself will have to be dealt with, but if the players are too stupid to extend their insurance by paying for their own policy like many people have to, I would have zero sympathy for any injury they sustain.

    Stop acting like these are 15k a year people who clean hotel rooms or work at MacDonalds and have no resources. I really don’t give a sh*t if the players have to pay for their own insurance for a few months. They can easily afford to do so.

  23. shallowfan says: Feb 18, 2011 9:04 AM

    “I hope they lockout or strike or whatever for a long time. It will bring both of these stupid sides to possibly be thankful for what they have instead of what they do not.”

    I understand your sentiment, but a lockout or strike will affect more “working joe’s” than it will players and owners. I hope there is no lockout or strike and a deal is reached asap…not for the sake of the millionaires, but for the sake of those that need income from football to put food on the table and pay their bills.

  24. chapnastier says: Feb 18, 2011 9:14 AM

    “On every NFL team, some players will want to focus on getting ready for the season and others will be trying to get the players to realize that doing so makes it harder to get a deal done on favorable terms.”

    What the hell makes you the expert? Have you talked to every single player to see if this is the case? Further more why does working out make it harder to get a favorable deal done? The speculation and false claims made daily about this situation is terrible.

  25. burntorangehorn says: Feb 18, 2011 9:25 AM

    harrisonhits–exactly. These players will only be uninsured if they choose to be. Either the union or agents will ensure that insurance is in the picture for workouts. I’d be very surprised if agents don’t see to it, and also work with agents for other players on the same teams to get non-league coaches who can run skeleton drills and such.

  26. Rhode Island Patriots Fan says: Feb 18, 2011 10:01 AM

    stanklepoot: Good counterpoint. If the NFLPA elects to go the decertification route rather than strike, then NFL fans should still be able to watch football during the years it would take to litigate the antitrust cases. Granted, the cost to the owners could be really high if the NFLPA prevails in court, as would likely happen. Then again, wouldn’t the owners stand to save big-time in costs over the same period? Absent a new CBA, nobody really “wins” this game.

  27. snot16 says: Feb 18, 2011 11:07 AM

    Gotta love how the players are saying they need the offseason and camps this year. Don’t most players (with job security) skip workouts?

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