When the NFL made on March 11 an offer to the players that didn’t nearly go far enough when it comes to the revenue split but that promised to take care of former players, the league tried to get said former players to pressure the current players to support the offer — or, at a minimum, to clamor for further talks. It didn’t work.
Now that the league and the players are possibly closing in on an accord, a Hall of Fame former player has figuratively clunked together the heads of the two parties, in the hopes of getting a deal done. (And, if he were in the room during negotiations, we have a feeling he’d do it literally.)
“You can see the problems,” Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little said over the weekend, at the football camp of former Broncos tight end Daniel Graham, per Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post. “Playing careers are short, life expectancy is short and the health issues extend well past when you’re done playing.
“When they’re done with all this, we need to have something in place for guys to get the help they need. Because all of the guys in the league now are going to be where we are someday a lot sooner than later. That’s it. There’s enough money to go around on both sides, so do the deal and take care of the people who play the game we all love.”
Little also raised a valid point regarding the multimillionaires whose names appear on the lawsuit that has given the players real leverage. “[T]he leaders now, the Peyton Mannings, the Drew Breeses of the world, they understand they’re set, but that their careers and their teammates’ careers will finish someday with their lives left to live,” Little said. “It’s important everybody thinks about that.”
Little is right. Manning, Brees, Tom Brady and the like don’t need the money, now or in the future. Former players and lower-level current players need a deal that will help take care of them, and hopefully that’s what some of the $9 billion per year, on its way to $20 billion and beyond, will do for the men who made the game what it is — and for the men who are currently helping to make it even better.