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De Smith says players won’t boycott games

DeMaurice Smith AP

Yes, the lockout of NFL officials has become a major news story.  It has been a top story on NBC’s Today the past two days, and on Wednesday NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith appeared on CBS This Morning.

Despite a suggestion from Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang that the team could boycott games, Smith said players won’t refuse to play.  “Absolutely not,” Smith said of the possibility, via SportsBusiness Daily.  “I’m not sure that it’s ever a good idea to punish our fans because we’re mad at the owners.”

Smith also reiterated the concern for player safety.  “The way we look at this issue is a little bit beyond just a bad call on a Monday night. The referees on the field are the first responders for health and safety for a group of players where we know that virtually every player . . .  will be injured at work,” Smith said.

And that remains the biggest concern regarding the use of third-tier-and-worse replacements.  Last year, amid criticism of the NFL’s failure to notice that former Chargers offensive lineman Kris Dielman should have been removed from a game against the Giants with a concussion (Dielman later had a seizure on the flight home), the league charged the officials with spotting whether players should be evaluated for head injuries.  The replacements, already overwhelmed by the demands of working NFL games, simply don’t have the time or the ability to press pause and point to a player and say, “Go get checked out for a concussion.”

That said, we don’t buy the common complaint that the failure of replacements to flag illegal hits creates a safety concern.  The regular officials miss those calls from time to time, and the ultimate safety net on this specific safety issue is the league office, which dispenses five-figure fines (and, as Joe Mays knows, suspensions) regardless of whether a flag is thrown.

Moreover, there’s an inconsistency between complaining about safety but willingly continue to work in an unsafe environment.  At some point, the NFLPA needs to convert its words into action.  Whether it’s filing a grievance under the CBA, a lawsuit, or a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, something needs to be done.

If it’s not, eventually one or more players could decide to sue the union.

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22 Responses to “De Smith says players won’t boycott games”
  1. cags777 says: Sep 26, 2012 9:44 AM

    Mr. Smith – Would you stop with the whole player safety issue? You showed your true colors about not caring about player safety or accountability earlier this year. Just because there have been bad calls from the replacement refs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go back on the soapbox of player safety.

  2. gtodriver says: Sep 26, 2012 9:51 AM

    Isn’t the NFLPA the same union trying to defend the actions of some players that put bounties on other members with the intent that they be carted off the field?

    Absolutely no integrity Mr, Smith.

  3. eagleswin says: Sep 26, 2012 9:53 AM

    If it was about player safety the NFLPA would be in court so fast your head would spin. The NFLPA has not been shy about pursuing anything and everything in court.

    What the NFLPA and players hasvshown in very clear terms is that they does not care about player safety. This was evident in the offseason.

    The league tried to require the latest concussion resistant helments. The players and NFLPA fought against that. The league tried to require the player to wear leg and hip pads. Denied yet again.

    The league tried to implement HGH testing as agreed to in the CBA. You’d think the players that aren’t taking illegal drugs would support that but yet again, NO.

    We have a player, who is not denying submitting a non-human urine sample to the league, appealing to the supreme court that the league doesn’t have the jurisdiction to punish him for it.

    If the NFLPA is so concerned, maybe they should question their “brothers” at the NFLRA why they won’t allow the “second tier” refs to replace them? Pigs will fly before the NFLPA will question the methods of their union brothers.

  4. yizudien says: Sep 26, 2012 9:56 AM

    Yea we are mad because we got more cash for the players but didnt leave anything for the refs. Awww many these greedy owners want some kind of profit for all the risk they front. Man we should boycott because we need the owners to give up more ! !!!!!

    Or the players could take 5% cut and give the refs the benefits they want. Never mind that the players have a role in this and are now crying about the decisions they made. To me these players need to grow up and take ownership in the problem.

  5. shackdelrio says: Sep 26, 2012 9:58 AM

    Players will never boycott games because they don’t want to lose that game check. Just like Mike Wallace and Maurice Jones-Drew showing up right before the season starts. The players need the money and the owners hold all the cards.

  6. steelerfanforlife says: Sep 26, 2012 10:01 AM

    A ref, replacement or not, cannot control player safety! Only the players on the field can. If they don’t care about their own safety then no one else should. How many fines have been given out since the new enforcement was put in place? How many fines did we see last week? Really seems to be working right???

  7. steelerfanforlife says: Sep 26, 2012 10:05 AM

    And if the players union is so concerned with player safety then agree to harsher punishments, not just docking someone money! Until then De Smith should keep his mouth shut

  8. conseannery says: Sep 26, 2012 10:14 AM

    It’s not about safety. Everyone knows this. To even allege that it is disrespects the intelligence of everyone who wasn’t held back in elementary school.

  9. term3186 says: Sep 26, 2012 10:14 AM

    Gotta disagree with you on the flag/late hit issue. A perfect example of that is the broncos/falcons game. Matt Ryan scrambles and slides feet first, and gets hit late. The zebras toss a flag for a PF. A few players later Ryan is scrambling again and slides again. This time, instead of hitting Ryan again, the Denver defender pulls up to avoid significant contact. I doubt he pulls up if there was no flag the first time.

  10. garyman1 says: Sep 26, 2012 10:16 AM

    Smith says: “I’m not sure that it’s ever a good idea to punish our fans”.
    Don’t you believe that for one second. The players don’t want to miss any paychecks.

  11. bengalfan2012 says: Sep 26, 2012 10:24 AM

    If he’s so concerned about player safety, why not walk off the field until the regular officials return?
    Oh yeah..no paychecks then. I guess player safety isn’t THAT important!

  12. norseyapper says: Sep 26, 2012 10:25 AM

    Just one more politician looking for a microphone and photo op.

    I haven’t heard him suggest that any of the money designated from revenues for player’s salaries be used to make up any of the difference for what the refs are asking for their pension plan. Now THAT would say that they care about safety, etc.

  13. 2ndaryinsanity says: Sep 26, 2012 10:34 AM

    “Moreover, there’s an inconsistency between complaining about safety but willingly continue to work in an unsafe environment.”

    Really? So I guess firefighters and police officers shouldn’t ” complain” about trying to make their jobs as safe as possible since they willingly continue to work in an unsafe environment?

  14. apmn says: Sep 26, 2012 10:47 AM

    The refs shouldn’t be in charge of checking for concussions. Teammates should. It’s basic human decency to take care of others, especially someone in your “brotherhood”.

  15. fuglyflorio says: Sep 26, 2012 10:50 AM

    Just when you think you won’t have to look at his ugly mug any more … DeMaurice finds a way to get on TV. The guy’s like Dracula … he keeps on coming no matter what you do.

  16. ferrell5 says: Sep 26, 2012 11:23 AM

    well put fuglyflorio. this guy is horrible for football. hes not concerned about the fans, hes concerned about his ability to “seem” like hes looking out for the best interest of the league. cant the goblin go away…RIP Gene Upshaw

  17. khuxford says: Sep 26, 2012 11:35 AM

    Did that moron just say that players will never strike (punish fans because we’re mad at the owners)???? On an issue he’s repeatedly sent out statements on, saying that the safety of the players is being negatively effected???

    How the hell is this man heading up a labor union of any sort? He’s a Grade-A moron.

  18. truthserum4u says: Sep 26, 2012 12:06 PM

    The CBA prohibits them from doing so anyways.

  19. melikefootball says: Sep 26, 2012 12:18 PM

    This guy is the reason we don’t have a quality product on field. Let the players boycott see how many people run to the gate. These players live a great life, are looked at as saints, make tons of money, given how much stuff and they even talk of this. GET REAL!!!I still love the safety issue, the players don’t even respect themselves..look at the extra pushing and getting into each other faces after each play, that is a safety issue. T he refs have absolutely nothing to do with safety on field. This is getting really out of hand. This is all these sports show talk about all day. I wish we could critique the pre, post game shows commentators as well as the announcers in the booth during the game. Many of them are like replacements refs as well and we can’t do anything about it.

  20. turfrage says: Sep 26, 2012 1:38 PM

    Players need a new mouth piece. Soon.

  21. shaggytoodle says: Sep 26, 2012 1:51 PM

    Lang said on the way home.. we talked about doing something extreme…

    Everyone was wound so tight moments after the game. Look at how many comments the first article had for Petes sake. Look at the ratings for the postgame show.

    Now that the dust is settled and blood pressures are coming back down to earth. Hopefully there is a great weekend of football, that the players decide the outcome of the game.

  22. Philip Schwarz says: Sep 26, 2012 4:04 PM

    I think the players ought to delay the start of each game by all of the players going on to the field for the opening kickoff and raising their fists in a solidarity solute and delaying the kickoff for a few minutes. With each passing week the delay should be a little longer.

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