Kevin Burnett, a free agent linebacker who started all 16 games for the Chargers last season, has offered some of the harshest criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that we’ve heard from any player in the days since the lockout began.
Burnett then mocked Goodell’s claims that he aims to improve the whole league, saying Goodell actually cares about nothing other than the owners’ bottom lines.
“‘It’s our league, it’s we, we love the players, we want the league,’” Burnett said of the way Goodell speaks publicly. “But what have you done for the players? What have you done, in all honesty, to improve the game, besides fine guys, besides take money away from guys, besides change a game that you’ve never played? . . . He’s done nothing to improve the game.”
Burnett said former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former union chief Gene Upshaw were able to figure out a system that worked for everyone, and that Goodell is wrong to try to change everything when the league is more successful than ever.
“Paul Tagliabue, he would talk about the players, he would help out the players and, when it came down to it, he and Gene would sit down, ‘OK, we need to get this done,’” Burnett said. “Owners talk about players that hold out of camp and we talk about players who walk out of camp . . . well, the owners signed this deal. They signed this deal. Yeah, it was an opt-out, but they signed this deal and now they want money back. Now they’re the player that’s holding out.”
And Burnett thinks the players’ side and Goodell’s side are far enough apart that a labor deal won’t get done before September, saying, “We’re going to miss games.”