For the first time in a long time (perhaps ever), the NFL Players Association will convene an annual meeting with leadership that is sharply divided on an issue of critical importance while that issue of critical importance is being resolved, one dues-paying member of the union at a time.
The Executive Committee, which negotiated the proposed CBA but now has more members against it than for it, will join with the board of player representatives, which generated just enough votes to send the CBA to the full membership, will gather in Miami for several days of meetings that surely will be dominated by ongoing debate and discord over the CBA. As they meet, players will continue to vote for or against a new CBA.
There’s a vocal minority that is opposed to the deal and, by all appearances and indications, a largely silent majority that is willing to defer to the judgment of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and vote for the deal.
As Richard Sherman, who serves both as a member of the Executive Committee and the 49ers’ player representative, explained in a tweet to retired NFL safety Eric Weddle, “[W]e fought the good fight but we were outnumbered for sure. It’s disappointing when the best argument for it is fear of what may happen.”
But people make decisions influenced by fear of what may happen every day. They choose surgery for fear of what may happen if they don’t have surgery. They choose to settle a civil case or criminal charges for fear of what happen if they go to trial. And in making these decisions they defer to the judgment of trained and experienced experts whom they trust when making those decisions.
That’s where the union currently is. Smith has resolved after considering all relevant factors and circumstances that the current deal is the best deal, giving the players the biggest slice from the largest pie. As some of the naysayers with agendas (including media members who may be angling for employment with a new-look union) scoff at the idea that the TV revenue will shrink if new deals aren’t done soon, Smith is in the best position to assess what’s real and what isn’t. As he explained during a Thursday visit to #PFTPM, he’s spoken to the league about this — and he’s spoken directly to the networks. How many of the critics of the deal can say the same?
Some players, like Sherman, aren’t willing to defer to the judgment of De Smith, based on the information he has gathered. Others are. Regardless of whether a player chooses to oppose or support the CBA, every player needs to realize that their vote means that they are rejecting or accepting the judgment of De Smith.
Far too many players seem to think that, by saying no, they’re saying no to an offer that the NFL dropped on their doorstep in a flaming bag. That’s just not the case. And every player needs to think of it this way before making his final decision.