As CBA voting continues, those who hope to defeat the deal are pulling out the big guns.
Panthers safety Eric Reid tweets that he asked his lawyers, Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas, to review the 456-page labor agreement and to write a summary of it. Reid characterizes the deal, based on their summary, as a “bigger disaster than we could have imagined.”
That’s the strongest statement yet that anyone has made against the CBA. In using that kind of terminology, it’s critical to understand the implication. Calling the CBA a “bigger disaster than we could have imagined” represents a complete rejection of the skills, abilities, and judgment of the men who primarily negotiated the deal: NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA president Eric Winston.
If/when the players vote to reject the CBA, the players who are pushing so hard against the CBA may finally turn their attention to the men who negotiated it. And isn’t it strange that none of loudest naysayers (from Reid to Russell Okung to Richard Sherman) publicly have made the connection between the deal and De Smith in their pointed and sweeping criticisms? The moment the CBA vote fails (if it fails), the narrative likely (and conveniently) will pivot.
None of the biggest opponents of the CBA are currently making that connection, presumably because they don’t want the rank and file to realize what a “no” vote truly means. They want the players to think they’re simply sticking to the owners, or that they’re turning down what so many have described as an opening offer from management. Then, once the die is cast on what would be a DOA CBA, it will be time to take what will be the next logical step, and it will be hard at that point for any player who voted against Smith’s work product to defend him.
So, frankly, it’s starting to feel a little like a coup. Take out the CBA, and then the executive director necessarily will be taken out. And Russell Okung or some other opponent of the CBA can then install SI.com’s Andrew Brandt as the executive director, and maybe Geragos & Geragos can supplant Jeffrey Kessler as primary outside counsel.
Sorry to be so cynical, but this is all just too strange. Did Geragos review and critique a 456-page document for no fee because he was curious about it? Is Brandt motivated to constantly bash the deal by a broader agenda to personally capitalize on the wreckage of a failed CBA vote?
Ultimately, the players will decide whether to accept the CBA. But it feels like they’re being manipulated into not realizing that “no” to the CBA means “no” to De Smith. It’s only fair for all players to understand that implication before casting their ballots. And if they truly want to move on with entirely new leadership, then they should vote “no” on the CBA — because if they do vote “no” on the CBA, that’s most likely what they’re going to get.
And that’s fine, if what they want is a new executive director. The worst outcome for the union (and perhaps the best outcome for those who may be launching a coup) would be for players to vote against the CBA and then to realize at some point down the road that they inadvertently set in motion the ouster of De Smith.