On the surface, there’s no obvious connection between Dwight Freeney’s allegations of NFL collusion and receiver Titus Young’s reluctance to accept help from the league. But it’s possible that one is related to the other.
It’s a point former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli raised via email on Friday, a concept he’s mentioned in the past. The mistrust between the NFLPA and the NFL, as evidenced by Freeney’s claim of collusion, makes it harder for any player to take the leap of faith required when accepting a supposed no-strings-no-agenda offer of assistance from the NFL.
And while Young’s reluctance to accept help from the NFL potentially comes from Young’s issues, whatever they are, it doesn’t help if he senses that information harvested by the NFL could later be used against him in some way. Plenty of players believe that; if they didn’t, the league wouldn’t have disbanded the no-questions-asked ride service that had been made available to players who have had one or two (or more) too many drinks. As Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com pointed out last year, players believed the league was using the service as a way to spy on players.
If players are concerned about the NFL knowing that they drank too much, the players also would be concerned about the NFL knowing too much about their mental health.
While it’s unknown whether this had any impact on Titus Young’s stunning collapse from second-round draft pick to 11-charge defendant, the message for both the NFL and the NFLPA is that the players eill benefit from an environment of genuine trust. Freeney’s remarks show just how far the two sides have to go before trust can be restored.
Still, both sides should try, starting at the top of both organizations: Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. The players will benefit from it, and in turn the game will, too.