As NFL owners gather in Atlanta to discuss among other things playoff expansion, the head of the players union is doing some quality saber rattling.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Tom Pelissero of USA Today that the union was prepared to strike back as a fight over workers compensation liners in Louisiana.
“The players have not seen a press release from the NFL indicating that they were going to take up the issue of better workers compensation benefits or increased injury protection benefits in light of their desire for extra playoff games,” Smith said. “A credible commitment to player health and safety has to include more than a group of Owners voting to recommend playing more games.”
If nothing else, it’s less subtle than coughing into your hand and saying “Over here, fellas,” and Smith pointed out that the union would have to sign off on anything owners might approve this week.
“Player leadership has consistently made it clear that we do not consider any issue, let alone issues that affect player health and safety, in a vacuum,” Smith said. “We have seen the NFL Owners and the League support rollbacks in injury care benefits and loss wage benefits in Louisiana, California and Arizona.
“Their inability to address and resolve these issues among various clubs means that players suffer disparate treatment in a League that disciplines to maintain uniformity. Most recently, the Saints introduced a bill aimed at only professional athletes to reduce players’ workers compensation benefits.”
It’s a good reminder for the owners as they figure out a way to carve up a growing revenue pie, in order to make sure a big enough slice gets passed down to the work force to keep them happy.