“NFL Notes–Union vs Players”
The NFL season has zoomed past the quarter pole, with surprises, disappointments and controversies.
Hot stories around the NFL:
..Obviously the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals at (5-0) with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury getting accolades.
..The continued growth of the Buffalo Bills, and the iconic play of QB-Josh Allen.
..The arrival of Justin Herbert to superstardom with the Chargers, the riverboat gambler that Coach Brandon Staley is.
..Add in Tom Brady leading the league in passing and year two of his relationship with Coach Bruce Arians.
Cold water in your face stories include:
..Las Vegas and the Jon Gruden-racial mocking EMail controversy that has spread like a wildfire-end result..end of his football and television career.
..Urban Meyer’s horrid professional and personal decision making and the Jacksonville losing streak now at 20-games, showing no end in sight.
..The Deshaun Watson hostage situation in Houston..he getting paid his full salary, not practicing, not playing, taking up a roster spot and the league office yet to rule on the sexual misconduct lawsuits vs the player.
..The NFL getting shutout by judges in 6-different attempts to quash the St Louis (1.6B) lawsuit involving the Rams move.
..The Patriots drafts under Bill Belichick, the struggles in his player acquisitions and the fact he is (8-12) since Tom Brady went to Tampa Bay.
..Kansas City is no longer having fun, not making plays, and leading the league in turnovers. Offense yes-horrid defense yes too.
..Now comes the insurrection in the Players Association over the leadership of Union Chief DeMaurice Smith, who hung onto his job in a vote of Player Reps on the weekend. There is player unrest over how the owners crammed the 17-game schedule down the players throats, the mass of injuries already, the vaccine issues, the pandemic and more.
A lot to unpack, but an interesting look at the Union Civil War-players vs the leader. NBC sports with a look at why this has happened:
DeMaurice Smith won a reprieve Friday, a new term as executive director of the NFLPA approved by the board of 32 player reps 22-8 with two abstentions. During the 90-minute call with the reps, he told them if he didn’t get at least two-thirds of the vote Friday, he wasn’t going to run—because it would be clear the player leadership didn’t have enough faith in him to lead the union. Now that he got the vote, he said this will be his last term, with the length TBD. It might make sense for a two-year period to find a new executive director; that’s how long it took the NBA players union to ID and hire its last executive director, Michele Roberts, and the two unions have similarities in the complexities of the job.
As for Smith, his struggle with many player leaders is based in the union’s acceptance of the 17-game season, which is detested by many players (with good reason). I’ve always believed Smith’s hands have been half-tied when it comes to major issues like the 17-game season—and could come in the next labor deal if/when the owners ask for 18 games. Football players don’t have the stomach for a work stoppage. They just don’t. They might say they do, but in order to hang in, players with finite lifespans in the game (many of them with lower career spans than their baseball or basketball peers) have to be willing to sacrifice a year of employment to get what they want. And in the case of the last vote, you saw the vast majority of the rank-and-file push a labor deal with the 17-game season over the finish line. Why? Because the majority of players who might play for two, three or four years don’t want to go on strike. They want the best deal they can get without striking.
Smith gets whacked for pushing the 17th game, understandably. The ancillary parts of the deal—a slightly higher percentage of the gross NFL revenue, 11,000 retired players getting a pension bump averaging 53 percent a year, minimum salaries for young players going up from $510,000 in 2020 to $1.065 million in the last year of the new deal, expanded practice squads, less off-season work, no more suspensions for positive marijuana tests—didn’t get covered much. He never would have gotten the buy-in if he said to players, We’ll fight the 17th game, but you may have to strike for it.
No idea who the favorite to replace Smith will be. Whoever it is better buy not just a few Armani suits, but a suit of armor to take the arrows this job requires.