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Volume 24 No. 158
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A PREVIEW OF THE NFLPA NEWS CONFERENCE: STRIFE AND ALL

     "This is the state of the Players Association on the eve ofthe union's showcase event:  discord and distrust," according toWilliam Rhoden in this morning's N.Y. TIMES in previewing NFLPAExec Dir Gene Upshaw's Super Bowl news conference today.  Morethan one player "expressed anger yesterday over Upshaw'sleadership, from the collective bargaining agreement that grantedfree agency but included a salary cap to Upshaw's own salary of$900,000."  49er Player Rep Toi Cook defends Upshaw's salary:"He needs to get what other people are getting.  The other peopleare getting a million dollars."  But Cowboy Michael Irvin said:"Not only did he let me down as a football player, he let me downas a black man, making that poor business decision.  People willlook at this and say, 'That's why you can't put a black man ashead of anything.'"  If shows of unity and minimum playersalaries are any measure, the NFLPA is the "weakest of all" teamsports players' associations, according to Rhoden.  He notes thestart of the NFLPA licensing corporation, which NFL Propertiescountered by offering to sign players to contracts.  "Instead ofsigning with their own licensing entity, certain key playerssigned with NFL Properties."  As for the report that former NFLPAstaffer John Walker misappropriated union funds and stole checksthat were payments from agents for union certification, someplayers are upset with the union's handling of the situation.49er WR Ed McCaffrey: "Something like this -- misappropriation offunds, regardless of how much it is -- I think it's a prettysignificant blow to the relationship between players and theunion" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/26).