The Steelers have already lost two key players to suspensions via the league’s substance abuse issue.
But veteran guard Ramon Foster, the team’s representative to the NFL Players Association, said “there are bigger issues than pot,” though his frustration led him to urge players to begin saving money for a potential work stoppage after the 2020 season.
The Steelers will miss wide receiver Martavis Bryant for the entire season, but running back Le’Veon Bell’s suspension was just negotiated down from four games to three. It’s future negotiations Foster’s more worried about, however.
“Hit them in the pocket. That way, money always talks,” Foster said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “For us to do that, we have to save on our end. We can’t be just blowing money and not realize what’s coming, especially with guys coming into the league now.”
That’s a bold statement — although with average careers shorter than four seasons, not all current players are going to have to worry about 2021 anyway.
Foster said players ought to be concerned with not only the league’s drug policy, but league control of punishments and post-career care and insurance are the kinds of things players need to be aware of as well.
And he cautioned players to be better prepared financially if they’re locked out, as happened after the 2010 season.
“It’s coming. They’ve hired certain people on their legal team, the NFL has, and we have to be the type of players and union that’s not borrowing money from banks and stuff like that to survive a lockout, a strike,” Foster said. “That can’t happen this time around. We have to be smarter this time around because there are a lot of things we’re going to be fighting for and a lot of things they are going to want and we’re going to want, too.”
There’s a significant difference between a strike and a lockout, and Foster’s other words are will clearly be heard as a threat by management. And the fact the threats are starting now can’t be a good sign.