Two years ago, Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson became determined to get Rams coach Jeff Fisher fired. And Dickerson, either directly or indirectly, contributed to the movement that eventually saw Fisher moved out of the job.
Now, Dickerson is taking on an operation that typically generates far better results than 7-9.
Dickerson has decided to tilt at the cash-windfall windmill operating out of 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan. He wants, generally, more — for all former players. Specifically, he has suggested that he wants $300,000 per year for Hall of Famers, a stance he has since tried to back away from in a Twitter exchange with Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com.
And Dickerson is motivated. He’s tweeting more than the Commander in Chief, and he’s appearing on pretty much every radio and TV show that issues an invitation. Dickerson recently spoke at length with Dom Cosentino of Deadspin.com. The discussion included an exchange regarding an effort by the league to gather survey information from former players that crystallizes the views of many former players against the NFL.
‘We want to ask you: How do you feel about the NFL?'” Dickerson said regarding the question he was asked. “I started laughing. I said, ‘I’ll say this much here: The NFL was good to me; I’ve been able to do things for my mother that I never would have been able to do.’ But as far as the NFL, I said, ‘I hate them f–kers. I hate them. I loved the game so much and they made me hate it at the end.’
“She was, like, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Most players feel like this.’ I said, ‘They say this ‘We’re family’ crap and I say that’s bullsh-t. We’re not no family.’
“I said, ‘The family are the players; now we’re family.’ That’s the real talk. I said, ‘We’re not family to them; they’re a bunch of suits.’ So Lawrence Taylor was coming by. I said, ‘Ask him the same question.’ He’s always, like, ‘What?!’ I said, ‘She has a question to ask you?’ He said, ‘What’s the question?’ ‘How do you feel about the NFL?’ He said, ‘F–k the NFL. I hate them bastards.'”
While Dickerson’s motivation is clear and his energy and commitment are admirable, his end game isn’t. He has no leverage, other than to attempt to persuade other Hall of Famers not to show up for the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. Appearing Friday on CNBC, Dickerson said former players need a seat at the table for the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
But there’s a reason they don’t have one. They’re former players. They get whatever they negotiate for themselves while they have the seat at the table. After that, the current players take over. And if the current players are willing to take less than they could get in order to give former players more, then former players get more.
From the league’s perspective, all that matters is the total dollars paid out for labor costs. Every dollar diverted to former players is one less dollar available to current players, and current players always have been wired to get as much as they can for themselves, even if those current players later lament the absence of revenue when they become former players.
From Dickerson’s perspective, none of that seems to matter. He’s prepared to flail at the league and at anyone whom be believes to be aligned with the league. He has repeatedly called out PFT and Michael David Smith for writing about an item pointing out a UPI article reporting that Dickerson crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike. Dickerson has insisted that the PFT story should be taken down because Dickerson now claims that he didn’t cross the picket line, and he presumes that anyone who would dare to point out the plain terms of a 31-year-old article must be in the pocket of the NFL.
He can think what he wants. Anyone who regularly reads this site knows that PFT is among the first (and at times only) national publication to call BS on the league office’s heavy-handed ways. From the Saints bounty scandal to the salary cap penalties imposed on Dallas and Washington for treating the uncapped year as uncapped to #Deflategate to Ray Rice to Ezekiel Elliott to various other topics, we’ve strongly disputed the league’s agenda when we believe the agenda doesn’t reflect basic fairness, truth, or common sense.
In this case, the truth is that there’s not much Dickerson can do other than make noise. The league has no legal obligation to give former players more money. The league has no business necessity to do so, either, because there’s nothing that former players can do, beyond attempting to organize a boycott of Hall of Fame weekend. And as to whether the league has a moral obligation to take care of former players, well, when was the last time that any for-profit business worried about moral obligations that didn’t also present a potential P.R. problem if ignored? (So far, there has been no negative P.R. for the NFL arising from Dickerson’s scattershot effort to clamor for more.)
Dickerson’s only hope is to persuade the NFL Players Association to take less for current players and in turn give more to former players the next time the labor deal is negotiated. Which is precisely what didn’t happen when Dickerson and his peers were the ones with the seat at the table. If they had, Dickerson wouldn’t be trying to get more for himself and his peers now.