Though the NFL generally has done a much better job than the NFLPA* of mastering the P.R. effort since the decertification-litigation-lockout square dance began on Friday, the players have benefited from the fact that none of the players have blown a public gasket regarding the delayed start of free agency, the inability to work out at team facilities, and any other aspect of the current circumstances.
Think about that. Jason Whitlock predicted — and we agreed with him — in January that the players would crumble quickly.
“This is a totally unfair fight,” Whitlock wrote. “It’s become cliche to say this is an argument between millionaires and billionaires. No. This is an argument between spoiled rich kids and their parents. Once the parents cut off the money, the mouthy rich kids turn bitch quick.”
So far, the mouthy kids haven’t turned bitch. The first high-profile breaking of the ranks came Thursday, when Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who unloaded on both sides for the lack of a deal the day after the AFC title game, said on his Twitter page that players should go to the draft, and that Cromartie himself will attend.
He was there in 2010, appearing on the side of the big stage for an interview while some in the crowd chanted, “Feed your kids!”
Cromartie’s comments could be his first overt effort to feed his kids by getting to free agency by pressuring the NFLPA*, which clearly wants incoming players to not attend the NFL draft even if they claim they aren’t calling for a boycott, to get a deal done.
Regardless of the motivations, we just want them to get a deal done. Both sides act like they care about the fans. If they did, they’d be busting their butts to find some middle ground.
At this point, we think there’s a better chance of Cromartie taking a vow of celibacy.
That said, it will all change if Cromartie and other players begin to vent their frustrations. We can’t blame them if they do. With a small group of lawyers and/or players possibly railroading the process toward an April 6 hearing that possibly could go badly for the players, the sooner the players who want talks to continue stand up and make their position known, the better.