A year after the players weren’t willing to sacrifice their financial interests via a lockout that would have cost them plenty of money if it had lasted into the regular season, they’re apparently unwilling to put their safety interests above those same financial interests.
The players, through their union, claim to be interested in the potential impact of the latest lockout — the lockout of officials — on their health and welfare. But it looks like the words won’t be transformed into action any time soon.
“There are two teams on the field competing,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said Monday while visiting 49ers camp, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “[The officials] are the only people on the field with an eye toward health and safety while the game is progressing.
“We shouldn’t be at the point where we’ve made great strides in health and safety and then take a step back by pulling the best people off the field.”
He’s right. Regardless of who is or isn’t being hardheaded beween the NFL and the NFL Referees Association, the gap doesn’t seem wide enough to justify risking the health of the players.
So what will the NFLPA do? “It will become more significant as we progress in the season,” Smith said, via Cam Inman of BayAreaNewsGroup.com.
Actually, it won’t. The risk is as significant as it ever will be when the officials are new to the job. They’ll get better with experience, and the risk will drop.
It could be that Smith is suggesting that the issue will become more significant later as a way to refrain from taking action now. After all, there’s no way that the players will walk out; there’s no point in even trying to muster support for a strike.
So why not force the league’s hand with some sort of a grievance? If a player were to sue the league now for exposing him to unreasonable risk of harm with third-tier-and-worse officials, the NFL would argue that the lawsuit is precluded by the labor deal’s grievance process.
So why not utilize the labor deal’s grievance process?