SBD/August 23, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLPA's Winston Warns Of Lockout In '21, Not Worried About League's Long-Term Future

Bengals OT and NFLPA President Eric Winston on Monday said players are going to "have to prepare" for a lockout in '21. Winston, speaking to Cincinnati's WCPO-ABC, added, "That's the mind frame we all need to be in now." He said the issues are "always going to be the split of the money" and the "structure of the deal," as well as health and safety and guaranteed money. Winston said he does not care if football is "around in 20 years, because none of us are going to be playing" and "another work stoppage might kill the golden goose." Winston: "If this thing dies out in 20 years, it dies out in 20 years. That's not really my concern and I don't think it's any of these players concern in here either" (WCPO-ABC, 8/21). USA TODAY's Lindsay Jones notes Winston "clarified his comments" with a statement on his Twitter account, writing that a potential work stoppage, like a lockout, would be a "sign from owners that they are unconcerned about the NFL's future." Winston wrote, "Players have always chosen to be good stewards of the game because we are the game, but quite simply, if the owners choose to lock us out again as they did in 2011, or if they continue to deny the health and safety risks for football, then they have signaled that they are not worried about the game in 20-30 years." Jones notes Winston's comments and follow-up statement are just the "latest signs of discord between the league and the NFLPA," and an indication that negotiations on a new CBA "could turn nasty" (USA TODAY, 8/23).

GOING TOO FAR? NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa responded to Winston’s comments by saying, “If I'm an NFL player and I'm technically a rank and file member of the union, I want Mr. Winston to resign immediately." Papa: "He's just not looking at the best interest. He’s looking at it selfishly from his own interests. He's talking about 2021. That's only four years from now.” Papa: “Why would this guy want to ascend to be the president of the union if he's not going to represent the union properly, not just here and now but forever? ... He's unfit to be the president of the union. If I was in the union, I'd say, ‘Damn, resign!’ What are you talking about that you don't care about the rookies in the room. How selfish is that?” (“The Happy Hour,” NBC Sports Bay Area, 8/22). ESPN's Mike Golic said, "I don’t want to hear the tough talk because it doesn’t mean a damn thing until you get to where you need to get to." He added, "I’m so disheartened with the union and the league with their inability, especially the main guys, to get along. You’ve got a $14 billion business that you can’t seem to figure out to get everybody on the same page. So I don’t want to hear the talk. I don’t want to hear Eric Winston with the tough talk" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 8/23).

HOPE FOR A RESOLUTION? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday during a fan forum in Detroit responded to NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith's comments about a work stoppage in '21, saying, "We believe that we have a labor agreement that's working well for players, it's working well for the NFL and I think as a result it's working well for the fans." Goodell: "We should continue that. Now, does that mean we think it's perfect? No. Does that mean the players think it's perfect? No. But this should be a basis for us to work together and get it solved. I think projections of whether there's going to be a work stoppage or not are really not the point. The point should be let's sit down and figure out our differences and get them solved. Do what's right for our fans and the game and try to make this an even more popular game collectively. That’s what I hope will happen" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/23).
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