For a few hours on a rainy draft day afternoon in Manhattan, the epicenter of the football world was in the W Hotel.
Once we got past the glass waterfalls in the lobby and the house music in the elevator, we witnessed a sense of triumph among the NFLPA* leaders and NFL veterans in attendance.
“Football is back,” DeMaurice Smith said, before commending his players for fighting for their rights. “It’s not only a great day for the players. It’s a great day for the fans. It’s a great day for this country.”
Smith knows that the legal battle isn’t quite done yet. There are a number of complexities for him to tackle no matter what happens in the NFL’s appeal to the Eight Circuit Court.
For Thursday, Smith focused mostly on the positive. He was happy to live in a world “where players are able to stand up and fight for a game they dig with their all their heart.”
While Smith believes the NFL is violating a court order by not allowing players to work out this week, he didn’t want to get into particulars about when free agency should start. He says he’s just waiting to hear from the league like the rest of us.
That mood was echoed by the players in attendance. Jets fullback Tony Richardson and tight end Dustin Keller said they understood a minor delay before free agency starts.
“To their credit, I think this process needs [a delay],” Richardson said. “There’s a lot things with free agency, it’s chaotic. . . . I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I understand. I do understand why things have been slowed down.”