Sometimes, things need to be said. Even if they invite criticism.
In this case, the things said by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman should elicit praise. He has become the first star NFL player (who also happens to be a member of the NFL Player Association’s Executive Committee) to say what needs to be said at a time when players throughout the league are confounded by the disparity between NBA and NFL player pay.
To improve their individual pay, NFL players need to improve their collective pay. To improve their collective pay, they need to be willing to strike.
“If we want to get anything done, players have to be willing to strike,” Sherman said at Wednesday night’s ESPYs in L.A., via Deadspin.com. “That’s the thing that guys need to 100 percent realize. You’re going to have to miss games, you’re going to have to lose some money if you’re willing to make the point, because that’s how MLB and NBA got it done.”
He’s absolutely right, and he needed to say it. When the owners didn’t like the labor deal, they first opted out of the contract and then locked the players out of their livelihood. And the owners were willing to extend the lockout into the regular season. The players weren’t, the owners knew it, and a deal was resolved with only one game (the Hall of Fame exhibition contest) missed.
This doesn’t mean a strike is inevitable. But without the threat of a strike, the players will never get the terms they want, and an imbalance will linger. (If you don’t think there’s an imbalance, consider this: Has any owner complained once about the financial terms of the CBA since it was finalized six years ago?)
Of course, the threat of a strike will be meaningless if they don’t follow through on it. But that’s a story for a different day. For now, the players need to be willing to include “strike” within their potential options for proceeding come 2021.