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Trust issues between NFL, NFLPA could make it harder for players to accept help

Executive director of the NFL Players Association Smith and NFL Commissioner Goodell speak outside the NFL Players Association Headquarters in Washington Reuters

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.

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14 Responses to “Trust issues between NFL, NFLPA could make it harder for players to accept help”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 2, 2013 1:21 PM

    I have to agree here. I would advise Titus Young to get help myself, but not from people associated with the NFL or NFLPA. I don’t agree with how these people go about solving problems.

    No thanks.

  2. hedleykow says: Jun 2, 2013 2:03 PM

    I don’t think further help of any kind should be necessary for any player, considering all the advice they could ever need or want is offered free of charge in the PFT comments section.

  3. mazblast says: Jun 2, 2013 2:15 PM

    The league’s offer may have been sincere and honest, but given how word gets around between organizations, and the inherent conflict between the interests of teams and individual players, it’s understandable how the players were reluctant to take them up on their offer. In a league run by The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person, a man given to handing out punishments where there is no crime to begin with, trusting the league is particularly potentially foolhardy.

    It’s like going to the team doctor. You can never be sure whose interests he or she is putting first.

    (This is in no way condoning the actions of Titus Young or the many drunks around the league. They should seek help, even if it’s not from the league and not free.)

  4. bsandersislegend20 says: Jun 2, 2013 2:21 PM

    I seriously had no idea that they disbanded that no questions asked rule. Which really makes me think that alot of these issues dealing with football players and drunk driving etc. could be and should be avoided.

  5. linebusy says: Jun 2, 2013 3:13 PM

    You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. The PA demonized Goodell (literally) leading up to the lock-out. They (the PA) screamed “fire” for 2 years to garner the support it needed for negotiations. That ill will that was purposely planted and groomed several years ago will persist until De Smith is replaced and/or there is complete turnover of personnel in the league. Right about then, they’ll be sowing the seeds of dissent, leading up to the next CBA.

  6. ender12777 says: Jun 2, 2013 3:24 PM

    They could use the car service I use. It’s called a Taxi.

  7. johnnyoclock says: Jun 2, 2013 3:24 PM

    Maybe if the NFLPA didn’t act so ridiculous and declare war against the league constantly, players wouldn’t feel a rift in the first place. If the NFLPA could act in an adult way maybe there would be a good relationship.

    And I think the driving service was less about spying on players and more about preventing an embarassing incident for the league or even a death. But everything has to be some conspiracy doesn’t it? And why is that? It’s because these guys are taught this nonsense from the immaturity and destructive ways of the NFLPA.

  8. jpmelon says: Jun 2, 2013 3:32 PM

    These guys make plenty of cash….the don’t ask don’t tell car service was just a way for the league to act like they are putting forth an effort to curb drunk driving.

    If I was making $300k minimum a year I would prefer to pay a taxi or rent my own limo to take me home rather than call my boss for a ride.

    People with mental illness rarely ask for or accept help. The lucky ones have great parents who force the help upon them.

  9. nickster31 says: Jun 2, 2013 4:11 PM

    Though I can understand the free ride fears that players have, the situation with Titus Young is a LOT different.

    For starters, he would be speaking with a mental health professional. This is a licensed therapist who, BY LAW would not be allowed to tell the NFL, NFLPA, teams or anyone other than himself ANYTHING that is discussed at their meeting. The Doctor, who spent at least 8 additional years in school would have his license revoked, and his lively hood destroyed. This IS NOT going to happen.

    It is called Doctor / Patient confidentiality.

    Secondly, if the NFL / NFLPA were to get an outside insurance carrier, even if it were only for mental health issues, they would have no idea if a player even spoke with a mental health expert.

    I understand that there is a lot of give and take in the negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA, but something like this is bigger than that. This is a persons life, and I fear for this young man. If he does not get professional help, I fear that he may harm himself or someone else.

  10. dukeshoward says: Jun 2, 2013 4:22 PM

    Why would the trust issues between employee and employer be any different in the NFL than for workers and management in any other institution? Young will have to balance the risk of coming forward and seeking help against the risk to his career of not using an employee assistance program.

  11. onbucky96 says: Jun 2, 2013 4:35 PM

    Of course the players don’t trust the NFL. The NFL got the NFLPA and DeMaurice Smith to agree on a very lopsided deal. Shame on the NFL for the outright incompetence of DeMaurice Smith.

  12. garyhd01 says: Jun 2, 2013 8:09 PM

    until the league owners realize GODdell is going to eventually unfairly treat every team in the league New Orleans (bountygate) and the cowboys and redskins (cap hit fiascos) they wont get rid of him and as long as GODdell sits atop the throne the players will never trust him, this divide will continue until… you watch how quickly this changes if roger messes with the Maras or the Krafts that’s when his bacon will be crispy cooked

  13. 32stork says: Jun 2, 2013 8:39 PM

    Major difference between the two:

    Young is a moron.

    Freeney is a whiner who apparently thinks living on a few million a year isn’t enough.

  14. tdshouldbeinthehall says: Jun 2, 2013 9:21 PM

    Talk about looking into more than is there. Players didn’t use the free ride program for the same reason 5 million people that can afford it don’t use a cab on Friday night. It’s not convenient! And Freeney just can’t come to grips with the fact that he is old and not worth 6 mil a year so it must be collusion. Maybe the NFLPA should set up a mental health program for the players. Now there is a crazy idea!

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