Three weeks ago tonight, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell strolled to the podium at Radio City Music Hall, where he was welcomed by a cascade of boos and the eventual chant of “We want football!”
NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith, while giving a commencement address at the University of Maryland, was greeted not with boos but with the same chant.
“I want football, too,” Smith said in response, per the Associated Press.
“Do we care enough about who we are and who we want to be?” Smith eventually said during the speech regarding the labor dispute in which he is embroiled. “The decision to pursue and if necessary fight for what is fair was a decision those players made two years ago. And I’ve got to tell you, it’s vastly different from something as simple as ‘shut up and play.’ That’s not the decision that we made. We made the decision to fight for who we we’re going to be and who we are.”
Later in the speech, Smith had this to say: “To anybody who thinks for one minute that passion is something that is cheap and futile, have two words for them: ‘You suck.’ And for anybody who would ever think that it is the wrong thing to do to care so much that you’re willing to risk everything because it is right, reserve those two words for them.”
Apparently, Smith was trying to time the “you suck” line to the portion of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part 2)” in which Maryland students call out those two words, prefaced by “hey.” Per the AP account, it was an “awkward moment,” due in part to the fact that the volume of the device on which Smith was playing the song was too low.
Apart from the clumsy homage to the student body, the notion of “risking everything because it is right” could trouble some of Smith’s current constituents. Primarily, they probably want to know whether Smith is risking his own “everything,” or whether he’s risking their “everything,” too.