Seahawks guard Chester Pitt, a player representative to the union that supposedly has become a toothless (from a labor standpoint) trade association, has been one of the most outspoken players in the slowly-unfolding lockout. In direct response to former NFL quarterback (and, let’s face it, current NFL employee) Kurt Warner’s assessment that “[t]he players have to give in” and at a time when some players are openly calling for meaningful negotiations aimed at ending the lockout sooner rather than later, Pitts tells Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com that “most players are in this for the long fight.”
It sounds good. But how accurate is it? Given that men like Falcons running back Jason Snelling contend that no one is listening to his belief that negotiations should be happening now, there’s a chance that the “players” (i.e., the NFLPA*) are truly listening only to the players (i.e., the men who wear the helmets) who are willing to, for example, give up a season while the lawyers try to establish maximum leverage via the court system.
Freeman believes that Pitts’ feelings represent the mindset of “many” players. But here’s the thing. There’s no gray area when it comes to whether the players (i.e., the men who wear the helmets) want to work things out or sit out for as long as it takes to get the kind of leverage that will protect their 50-cent pie of an ever-growing pie.
In our assessment, plenty of players are willing to take a year off if need be. But plenty of others aren’t.
That polarity will come into focus if the Eighth Circuit allows the lockout to proceed and the question then becomes whether the players (i.e., the NFLPA*) will move on to the next branch in the litigation tree or whether the players (i.e., the men who wear the helmets) will demand that the players (i.e., the NFLPA*) respond to the league’s offers of March 11 and May 16 (if an offer was actually made on May 16) and commit to continuous negotiations.
Even if the players are divided equally regarding the question of whether to work things out or to hold firm, half of the players plus one would be enough to form a new union and negotiate a new labor deal that would bind all players. Though it’s way too early to know whether it would ever come to that, the players (i.e., the men who wear the helmets) who want to work things out should now be able to conclude that the players (i.e., the NFLPA*) currently view negotiation as capitulation, even if it isn’t.