Several of you have forwarded to us a Wednesday morning interview of NFLPA Executive Director De Smith on WGR 550 in Buffalo, the very first radio station on which yours truly ever polluted the air waves. (So, basically, blame them.)
Smith appeared on The Howard Simon Show, and he engaged in a lengthy discussion of the labor situation with Howard Simon and Jeremy White. During the interview, Smith encountered as much resistance as he likely ever has on the subject of the lockout that Smith believes is looming.
At times, Smith seemed a little loud and almost perturbed, even though most of his points were valid, especially as it relates to the critical role of revenue sharing in keeping small-market teams like the Bill viable.
But one point resonated with us more than any other. In his zeal to curry favor with the fans by warning us that the league is threatening to take away “our game,” Smith is making it virtually impossible to ever stage a strike for as long as he’s working for the union.
“What I’m negotiating the fairness of whether or not a business that is grown by public money should be allowed to shut down,” Smith said. “So when I know that 40 million union workers have talked to the owners about shutting down a game that shuts down America, that’s our fight, too.
“I know everybody would like to paint this as a battle between millionaires and billionaires. And you know what? You can do and say and think anything you want. But my guess is over the last two years every fan in Buffalo has had to confront the fact that not the owner’s team would leave, not the players’ team would leave, but that their team would leave. Isn’t it fair then to say, ‘We should be all thinking about what happens when they shut down our game?'”
It sounds good when directed at the party that could be shutting down “our game,” but the last two times “our game” was shut down, it was the players who shut down “our game.”
So the good news is that we won’t be seeing a strike from the players any time soon. If we do, all the league has to do is play back some of Smith’s quotes.
Though Smith said he’s not trying to get fans to take a side, he surely would like to persuade people to choose his side. Based on the full body of what he said today and the manner in which the hosts responded to him, the players likely now have less support in Buffalo, not more.
Smith probably didn’t help matters by mentioning near the end of the session that he’s a lifelong Redskins fan and “by the way we got you in the Super Bowl.” Though he was laughing when he said it, for Bills fans it’s like saying through a chortle, “By the way, too bad about that cancer you have.”